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Bissa High Cloud

2003
21st Century
93 in. x 43 in. (236.22 cm x 109.22 cm)

Keba Armand Konte, American, b. 1966

Object Type: Paintings
Creation Place: North America, United States, California
Medium and Support: Photo transfer on wood and copper
Credit Line: Museum Purchase, Mrs. John C. Sigourney (Mary Singleton) Fund
Accession Number: 2003.17
In Bissa High Cloud, Oakland-based artist Keba Armand Konte portrays the face of a young Black child looking directly at the viewer. The overwhelming height of the work suggests a feeling of the piece overshadowing the viewer, and requires us to step back to make an impression. It is unclear where the child is or what they are doing. Instead, the artist focuses on the materials, colors and facial expression. Many large pieces of wood .are arranged vertically in staggered heights. A photograph of the child is transferred onto the wood, with the textured grain of the wood showing through the photo transfer. The rough quality of the wood evokes driftwood, suggesting themes of water, movement, and diaspora.

Though it is unknown in which part of the world this child lives, images of children evoke questions of community and child-rearing. Seeing this work, viewers might consider the communities and people that have raised and nurtured this child, as well as their hardships and privileges. Considering .the title, viewers can question the continuities and discontinuities between communities in West Africa, where Bissa people live, and Oakland, where the artist resides. Unlike many colonial images that depict Black children through the eyes of white saviors, here a Black artist depicts a Black child perhaps across continents. While this does not inherently grant the work purity or good intentions, it rejects the white colonial gaze, changing the terms of representation.

--Isabella Perry, December 2019

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Bibliography List
This object has the following bibliographic references:
  • Stephanie Hanor, ed. State of Convergence. State of Convergence Mills College Art Museum. Oakland, CA, 2020

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