2018 Congo Square Poster
Queen of Bounce
by Kevin Brisco, Jr.
Freddie “Big Freedia” Ross is a phenom - a joyous gay rapper advancing New Orleans’ unique sub-genre of rapid beat-based call-and-response “Bounce” music for the past two decades. It’s impossible not to wiggle when Freedia and her shake team twerk. Whether you’re a geezer transfixed in disbelief or a fan celebrating the freedom she embodies, Freedia’s hyperkinetic performances own Jazz Fest when she starts up the ‘Triggerman beat’ in her classic song, “Gin In My System.” An infectious, irresistible and wondrous spectacle.
Beyoncé featured Freedia’s ad-libs on her Lemonade album’s lead single, "Formation,” and sampled Freedia's voice to open her 2016 "Formation" World Tour. This followed Miley Cyrus' popularization of Freedia’s signature moves. While Cyrus was attempting to twerk, Fuse was blowing up cable with “Big Freedia Bounces Back,” its highest rated original show. Now in its sixth season, the show follows this gay choir boy as she (don’t be confused by the gender switches - she isn’t) makes her way through New Orleans’ cross-dressing hip-hop club scene and on to world-wide fame as the global ambassador - Queen Diva, actually - of Bounce. “Bend ova! Hands on the ground! Shake it! Break!”
This installment of the Congo Square at Jazz Fest poster has many firsts: First rapper, first gay man and first pop vocalist portrayed by an unpublished artist, Kevin Brisco, Jr., another first. Brisco’s bio is short, which means he speaks through his art, a forward synthesis of classical form and impressionism. His informed psychohistory of Freedia was inspired by John Singer Sargent’s Madame X (a New Orleanian) elegant in her finery in a French Quarter aerie. Grace and poise percolate from Freedia posed in a lace trimmed Edwardian velvet jacket, holding a feather fan in one hand as the fingers of the other balance on a beautifully detailed table. On the wall is a Jazz Fest poster depicting Freedia’s other side - as an energetic Bounce performer. Under the table is a stack of vinyl, fronted by her first album “Just Be Free,” named one of the “best electronic releases of 2014” by Rolling Stone.
This closely observed, richly rendered sweet portrait comes from the studio of a 27-year old Memphian who moved to New Orleans after earning a degree in painting from Wesleyan. Idealism has kept his work from most collectors, who must agree to publicly display and partially pay for each painting by hiring its performing artist subject. Needless to say, this idiosyncratic provenance makes Brisco's works very rare. Meanwhile, he slings ribs at a BBQ joint to pay for paint and canvas. His high-minded motivation led him to turn down this commission, also a first. Two weeks after that demurral, he reconsidered and proposed Freedia as his subject. The striking result is before you. And you can own it without having to hire Freedia.
2,500 Numbered prints on archival paper, 22” x 31”, $69
350 Artist-signed & numbered prints on 100% rag paper, 23” x 32”, $239