Solange Knowles-Ferguson is our modern-day renaissance woman. Without a doubt. A product of our pop culture zeitgeist and a student of black art - she is both the cheerleader krumping on the cafeteria table in Bring It On: All Or Nothing and the singer/songwriter/performer bathed in red singing beneath a massive sphere at the Sydney Opera House. Solange has crafted a holistic vision, a sonic and visual language, which radiates through every facet of her being - music, message, and visuals, to performances and style.
2016’s A Seat at the Table is a rare and landmark work, and introduced the masses to her distinct sonic language. Her way of claiming and exercising her seat at that table, the album came just before the U.S. Presidential election, it hit us all of the right notes at the right time, cementing herself as master lyricist. The album’s accompanying tour and visuals solidified Solange as a true interdisciplinary artist.
Her “Orion’s Rise” tour was less the commercial endeavor and moreso a worldwide series of performance art pieces - styled impeccably by mother Tina, which included an exhibit at the Tate Modern (re: her “Seventy States” performance art “digital dossier”) in London, a Guggenheim Museum occupancy in New York, and an interdisciplinary video/dance/sculpture performance entitled Metatronia (Metatrons Cube) in collaboration with Uniqlo at Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum. “I don’t think I ever saw this idea of existing as a performance artist or multifaceted artist as a possibility as a black woman,” she told Billboard Magazine. “I have made myself pretty clear that I’m not interested in entering these spaces unless I am wholeheartedly occupying the space. I can’t even tell you what going down that rotunda [at the Guggenheim] felt like, seeing all of those black and brown faces.” Her music videos for the album, along with others she’s directed for the likes of SZA, are also visual and artistic feasts.
Solange’s personal style is of equal measure. She is synonymous with color, shape, texture, and proportion play in her fashion and beauty. Take some of her recent looks: like the black latex Iris Van Herpen creation featuring a platinum braid halo and du-rag for this year’s Met Gala, or her outfit by student designer Shanel Campbell for the 2018 Parsons Benefit. She uses her platform within fashion to elevate young, emerging designers (especially designers of color) like Campbell or Mowalola - styling their works alongside industry heavy-hitters (ie: Gucci, Chloe, Marques Almeida). Her red carpet looks are a breath of fresh air among a see of the typical prom-esque and "pretty;" they shock, surprise, impress, and subvert.
As this year’s Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year, she exemplifies success with pride, power, agency, and total uniqueness of self. Under any preconceived pressures that may come with being the younger sister of Beyoncé, Solange has flourished as a singular creative redefining her space. With her art, style, and multifaceted cultural hub, Saint Heron (which just announced a collaboration with the Swedish furniture designer IKEA), she has cultivated a universe in which to thrive and become an inspiration for young modern creatives.
“I want to continue to create work that exchanges and engages and activates and continues to challenge myself and spaces on what it means to identify as an artist in this body during this time,” she said during her Harvard acceptance speech. “I want to sculpt, I want to build, I want to tear down walls and build new ones, I want to disrupt, I want to bore, I want to quiet you down, I want to create frequency.”