Part of Pittsburgh City Paper's month-long celebration of Black History Month
"Hell no," says Black Barbie.
It's the artwork of Pittsburgh's Kamara Townes, aka Wavy Wednesday, who uses themes from pop culture to highlight issues facing the daily lives, and struggles, of Black women. Another painting by Townes shows a shrugging white Barbie saying, "But my Black friend lets me say it."
The artwork is cute as hell and inviting, the kind that makes you smile at first, then causes a double-take; some will laugh nervously, others will applaud. It's artwork that inspires viewers to appreciate Townes' talent, then have a conversation.
Protect Black Women, Townes' first solo exhibition last October, brought her Barbie-themed artwork to the walls of Late Space, an experimental gallery in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood. In addition to her colorful pop art, Townes stenciled her project title on the wall repeatedly, inserting a different adjective in bright red paint inside each one: Protect "Incarcerated/Disabled/Fat/Loud/Trans/Dark Skin/All" Black Women.
Now Townes is hoping to take the show on the road with the help of a Kickstarter.
Townes, a recent graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, is raising funds to show her work in a New York gallery this May. She says donations will go to travel, gallery rental, shipping, insurance, and marketing. But in addition to helping a full-time Pittsburgh artist get her work appreciated elsewhere, it's worth noting that her Kickstarter rewards are super rad.
For just $5, you can get a Protect Black Women button. Donate $10 and receive a lighter featuring Townes' illustration of a zombie Barbie. Others include signed prints, T-shirts, and for the highest pledge, $350 for an original painting. Townes currently has 79 backers and is over halfway to her goal of $4,000 with 49 days left to go.
To see more of Townes' artwork, don't miss her Instagram page.