Zendaya Embodies Simone Leigh’s Compelling Art Captured by Ryan McGinley for Garage Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019

Zendaya reaches for the sky in compelling captures by Ryan McGinley for Garage Magazine, F/W 2019. A powerful portrayal permeates the page, as this story invites us into the process. Evoking art that touches the heart, we’re moved by the act to embody truth. I felt distinctly honored to view these proud images. A bringing to life of the beauty of Simone Leigh’s Brick House.”This is a collaboration, A New Vision of Black Womanhood within the Pages of a Fashion Magazine.” Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, engages in a dynamic discussion held between herself, Simone Leigh & Zendaya. Three amazing females forge a real connection as the conversation evolves. The raw energy of some of today’s most talented artisans, make this more profound than an interview, it was a symposium on/about spectacular females. A riveting reflection seen through the act of deep and thought-provoking exchange. This Live Art Installation Reveals Itself as a Stunning Piece of History Explored. Each clay sculpture stands in poetic majesty. Skirts made of straw fall around her body, as she climbs to the highest of points. This is extraordinary. The angelic nature of her being can’t be destroyed. Bravery abounds as she stands enhanced. Even as her skirt turns into a solid material, she won’t be held down. Nothing can stop this Spirit Queen. Her being is inner beauty personified. We see the energy rise as ~ Queen Zendaya ~ has arrived! Her lithe body reflects the resilient strength of the Female Spirit. Looking Back These Were Warriors Among Women ~ Beyond Bravery ~ They Held Up the World but Were Never Heard. There is no way around these facts. They Hurt Me to Write.

To bring art to life is a daunting task. Realizing the fullness of such a personal piece, that resonates so deeply with so many people, is heroic. Enter Zendaya. A young, actress and activist who gave to this project a youthful voice. Honoring Simone Leigh’s vision she was able to reach beyond the bounds of history. Her eloquent embrace of the subject matter provides important elements of Era understanding for dutiful reference. Time is a fluid concept. However, when yearning to comprehend an earthly truth we are bound only by our ability to connect on a human level. Here they use this to abridge facts from the past in order to explore resonance within current time construct. The brilliant artisans who worked on this editorial accomplishment, combined their crafts to elevate the essence of these moving works. Transformative and tactile, each image is alive with pride. Each picture is palpable. Describing a time by reaching through the art and touching the heart of the viewer. That is the greatest gift anyone can ever give another soul. Through intent their work reaches another person. That is the act of humanity in progress. Simone Leigh’s piece is so giving in this distinct purpose. It would be easy for me to feel like I don’t have the right to speak on these issues. But, I believe that Leigh’s touching tribute invites those willing to see the truth. And, I gratefully accept the chance to express myself through thoughtful commentary. There is only one word that describes this act… That is Brave. Thank You for Allowing Me the Honor of Writing On Such a Moving Subject.

Here We Witness Freedom of Female Spirit… Here We Embrace The Evolution of Truth. Zendaya’s performance is a spectacular event because it is such a personal journey of discovery. To share this is to welcome the world to an odyssey of the interpersonal. This is a powerful part of translating physical pieces into live art. The angelic nature of her being stands in stark contrast to the baron surroundings. These metal bars can’t keep her in place as her body rises to meet true grace. Standing atop a grass skirt she appears as high as the sky. Breaking down the walls of confinement, this height honors her fight to survive. What held her down on this earthly ground won’t stop her spirit from rising proud. The scenic sensation can not be overstated ~ Life Aches as Faith Takes Us To a Place of Clarity Awaken. This is a tale of veracity unveiled. Here every element defines dignity. The female body becomes the house of heart as she wears what is the image of a grass hut. Pieces of her straw skirt falls into place as the beauty of her braids tell a story of strength. Martin-Christopher Harper builds a bridge from the past to the future by creating braids that break through the gates of time and place. Zendaya’s hair is a compilation of cultural and personal pride, much apart of this landscape of life. Voices Rise as Global Pride Is Seen In Sweeps of Braided Glory.

Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and Law Roach capture the majesty of her presence as she stands atop a grass hut transformed into a skirt. Each outfit is a unique amalgamation of historical reference and fabricated architecture. We we are privileged to see the future rise in Zendaya’s eyes. Here Truth Is Told… IT IS BECAUSE IT WAS. To Ignore Truth is To Ignore History. I am honored that Leigh Trusts us to not dilute this truth. We need to absorb every aspect of her art given in the highest concentrate. Together We are Strong Enough to Survive Our Past. But, We Can Only Do It Together. United We Stand Divided We Fall. To Fight For Freedom is To Fight For the Soul of Humanity. Art Is a Heroic Endeavor Designed to Move the Body/Heart/Mind. What is the greatest gift we can give someone? That is the gift of sacrifice. To sacrifice your need to be heard. To be the center. To be right. Are You Willing to Just Be? In the moment. Right now. To accept truths that exist outside of your purview. To seek another’s truth and accept it as your own. That is the greatest gift we can give one another. That is respect. To listen. To understand. To accept. To adjust ourselves to any information that cancels our current knowledge. To Love Others. To Love Ourselves. We can’t get anywhere without this promise.

art explores… in the deepest waters of our shallow times truth expounds as lies confine 

i am a poet

of words i write

that soothe my soul

and heal my fright

don’t bait to switch

don’t lie to heal

don’t tell me that

you gotta deal

to make it better

to make it right

to make all pain

leave this night

for day is but

a breathe away

and all we need

is truth to stay

poetic prose – tanyajo

16′ Tall Bronze Bust On the High Line at the Spur, at 30th St. and 10th Ave. by Simone Leigh