Fellow space travelers, outrageously dressed in pattern and color, wait for liftoff in Willowbrook as multiple suns shine bright.
In Waiting to Excel, April Bey envisions the future of Willowbrook as a transportation hub to outer space.
Geographically Willowbrook connects neighboring communities. She is an artery moving bodies throughout the city with the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station—a major transportation hub in Los Angeles—as a blood vessel. The Imperial Courts Housing Project sits across from this major hub and, even through a negatively-textured history, large quantities of art and culture originate here. The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, also nearby, has transitioned over the years as a source of local care and innovation. Willowbrook is movement into the future.
Bey combines ideas of Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism. Afrofuturism looks towards the future with a focus on the African diaspora, science, technology and advancement. Afrosurrealism examines, distorts or exaggerates the present through an African diasporic lens. Space travelers clothed in African wax fabric conceptually link to how Black women move the West African fabric trade along and that African- Americans have genetic ties to the region from slavery. Bey’s artwork visualizes Willowbrook tomorrow, while examining a distorted view of how it exists today through extraterrestrial eyes.
This artwork was commissioned for Metro’s Through the Eyes of Artists poster series for display in the fleet.
“My work is made from the perspective of being an alien sent from another planet to observe and report on Earth through art. Willowbrook through my eyes is a mosaic otherworldly landscape of innovation and culture that is constantly shifting.”
About the Artist
APRIL BEY (b. 1987, Bahamian / American) resides and works in Los Angeles as a contemporary visual artist and art educator. Bey’s interdisciplinary work focuses on introspective observances of American, Bahamian and Black culture, the African diaspora and post-colonial ramifications, social media, Afrofuturism and Afrosurrealism. She has a background in drawing and painting (BFA Ball State University and MFA California State University, Northridge). Bey is in the permanent collection of The California African American Museum, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas and The Current, Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas. Bey has launched four solo exhibitions: Picky Head at Liquid Courage Gallery, COMPLY at Coagula Curatorial, MADE IN SPACE at Band of Vices Gallery and Welcome to Atlantica at Fullerton College Art Gallery. Bey travels extensively for her work, mostly to West Africa, and is a tenured professor of Art at Glendale College.