Firelei Báez created Luminously Indiscreet especially for the 2018 exhibition Joy Out of Fire, at The Studio Museum in Harlem at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The exhibition grew out of research Báez conducted at the Schomburg Center, in which she examined different women whose legacies are preserved in the center’s archives and imagined them in conversation with each other. Each tapestry can be thought of as an “ethereal amalgamation of the artist’s archival findings.”
Says Báez, “Specifically I am interested in the intergenerational conversation between the women in the archive. I kept asking myself, ‘How do I, as a painter, make that presence felt?’ The paintings are, in some ways, murals. They’re physical. They’re meant to be experiences both visually as well as read.”
Color is an essential aspect of the work. Says Báez, “The show was largely conceived with this three-color triad motif of ‘orisa,’ which are like different kinds of spirits: red, yellow and blue. [Luminously Indiscreet] is of the yellow, which is related to empathy, and artists.”
The title of this tapestry takes its name from a line in the poem The Sermon on the Warpland by Gwendolyn Brooks, from her book Blacks.
The Sermon on the Warpland by Gwendolyn Brooks
“And several strengths from drowsiness campaigned but spoke in Single Sermon on the warpland.
And went about the warpland saying No. “My people, black and black, revile the River. Say that the River turns, and turn the River.
Say that our Something in doublepod contains seeds for the coming hell and health together. Prepare to meet (sisters, brothers) the brash and terrible weather; the pains; the bruising; the collapse of bestials, idols. But then oh then!—the stuffing of the hulls! the seasoning of the perilously sweet! the health! The heralding of the clear obscure!
Build now your Church, my brothers, sisters. Build never with brick or Corten nor with granite. Build with lithe love. With love like lion-eyes. with love like morningrise. with love like black, our black— luminously indiscreet; complete; continuous.”
Firelei Báez: Joy Out of Fire, 2018, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture x The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA