The new Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Prospect Heights museum opened to the public and Jamie invited The M Report along for the ride.
Balancing her role as an artist and the creative director behind the brand Viva Bandida, Jamie B. shared her insight as to what she brings to the table.
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M:We just came from the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. What was your key takeaway from that exhibit?
J: My key takeaway was that Frida was way ahead of her time, and that it's no surprise that she's a global icon today.
M: Frida was fierce and unrelenting when it came to her fashion choices. She loved her culture and she didn't shy away from her physical disabilities. Why is she such an icon to you?
J: Frida is an icon to me because she vehemently broke the status quo. She crafted her own identity and imbued many levels of meaning into her work. She managed to be fully vulnerable as she expressed immense pain, yet championed her beliefs and her heritage in a world that wasn't very kind to women. She brought to the surface what society wanted her to keep buried, and she embodied a type of strength that makes other people feel
M: Tell us about your brand Bandida.
J: Bandida is a celebration of having a fluid identity and the ability to navigate multiple worlds. I design shirts that shed light on the Latina experience and respond to our unique obstacles in a fun way. The collection acknowledges and subverts stereotypes, and encourages women to break cycles that no longer serve us. I call it Girl Power in Spanglish.
J: My vision was to empower wearers with designs that evoke confidence. I think of the shirts as visual meditations on being a malcriada. A malcriada, like a Bandida, is a woman who breaks rules.
I like to bring together uncommon elements to create new meaning. Like a visual pun that resonates on multiple levels. So I've flipped a couple of logos... like Chanel, Fila and Chiquita Banana. I recently flipped a Balenciaga logo that was a flip of a Bernie Sanders logo. I think it's a dope nod to the state of politics, especially since our congress has a record number of women, including democratic socialist and Bronx Latina, AOC. I envision wearing my hoodie to go vote!
M: You're also a singer. What is that journey like so far?
J: Singing is definitely a spiritual practice for me. When I sing it's like I get to check in with my higher self. I've sung backup in the past, and now I sing covers with a small band at restaurants and private events. We perform in English and Spanish. I'm being drawn to use this gift in a greater capacity. I'd really like to write and release original songs.
M: What hurdles did you have to overcome when you first started - both as a designer and as an artist?
J: As a creative you have to remember to only focus on what you can control and release what you can't. With both disciplines, I had to learn to release my attachment to an outcome. You can't control how people receive or respond to your work. You can only put out your best work.
M: What words of advice would you give to other creatives, particularly women?