Malaika Favorite: The Alchemist
Malaika Favorite: The alchemist
Exhibition Dates: Feb 07, 2020—June 3, 2020
Malaika Favorite’s found object paintings seem to burst with an energy that conveys a sense of a life lived so well it verges on the mythical or magical. Somehow, seeing her work gathered en masse strengthens this impression, as does her merging of contemporary art and folk art practices. Favorite’s synthesis of folk and contemporary is akin to alchemy; the medieval pseudo-science that strove to transform base metals into gold. Her approach is born of expressive utility that defies categorization, making it difficult to identify her work with a particular genre or media. Her larger objective is to convey a holistic sense of herself. Whether an individual work of art is dealing with an act of God, a social injustice, family relationships, music, faith and so on, her indomitable vibrancy as a person shines through, using specific objects and images to address universal human concerns. For example, instead of canvases, Favorite often paints on old washboards, a potent symbol of grueling labor and of her own family support structures. Favorite’s grandmother and aunt were laundresses and her mother ran the household. These associations serve as a conceptual foundation representing the constancy of familial love through the object of the washboard that might also be layered with other themes like the love of country, faith, and racism. The image of a hog similarly has personal resonance for Favorite. Her father raised pigs at home for food and extra income. Poems by the artist integrated into her paintings, as well as several meditations about the symbolic value of the images and objects in her work complement this exhibition.