About April Bey:
April Bey began working as an artist while living and growing up in Nassau, Bahamas. Bey received a BFA in drawing from Ball State University in 2009, and an MFA in painting from California State University in 2014. She had her first solo show at Liquid Courage Gallery, Nassau, The Bahamas, and has exhibited internationally with artist residencies in Italy and Spain. Her work is interdisciplinary with themes of racial ambiguity, self-identity and nontraditional racism. Her current work is an introspective and social critique of American and Bahamian culture. Bey is a published author on issues associated with the underrepresentation of black women in the feminist movement and social media communication.
The label, “Conchy Joe”, connotes specificity of race. I grew up in The Bahamas biracial and bicultural. Despite the fact that my father was an American black and my adoptive stepfather was a Bahamian black, locals referred to me as a “Conchy Joe” because the pigment in my skin wasn’t as heavily concentrated as theirs. As a child this confused me and made me question what it truly meant to be Bahamian and black. It singled me out and created a barrier. Yet the most treasured Bahamian seafood is conch with its seductively white flesh. Whiteness, historically, has prestige, and there is a seductive dance between the sinister and the sweet that makes the user of this label both resent and envy the subject they’re labeling. With available technological innovation, the perpetuation of prejudice rooted in slavery is carried across borders with the touch of the “submit” button. The origins of black-centrism is often grounded in an aversion to the “master” race. Yet, in rejecting this history, we have adopted the tongue of “Massa”. A continuation of these labels that differentiate our physical appearance, demeaning one group and exalting another, is a seriously depressing acceptance of slave mentality.
“My work makes direct reference to what I’ve deemed The Millenial Natural Hair Movement, which started on social media sites, aimed at black women in an instant-gratification-style learning platform. Since this movement was primarily waged on-line, it is uniquely millennial and homeland (Gen Z) leaning, due to its hyper-digital mode of transmitting informatin…” (This article was origionally published in arts&entertainment newspaper- January 8th, 2014) Much of Bey’s work has to do with women’s rights, race, ghetto culture and the stereotypes around them.