The 'She's Gotta Have It' Artists' Instagrams Show That While Nation Time Might Be Fictional, The Talented Attendees Are Well-Known
Spoilers ahead for She's Gotta Have It Season 2, Episode 4. In an unexpected turn of events, Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) gets invited to a prestigious black artist retreat in the second season of Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It. During this week-long getaway on the picturesque Martha's Vineyard, the painter is able to rub shoulders with other creatives in her field, who are portrayed in the Netflix show by real-life artists. And many of the She's Gotta Have It artist Instagrams reveal both their talented work and the stories behind them.
Nola Darling may still be trying to figure herself out, but she's created some impressive work, including her My Name Isn't... series from Season 1. But before audiences see the painter's controversial art show later in Season 2, audiences meet some of her peers during Episode 4, #NationTime, who are real-life artists.
About halfway through the episode, these creatives are all able to introduce themselves and the piece they've chosen to present at the retreat. Nola is starstruck by one creator in particular — a photographer named Carrie Mae Weems. And while the protagonist knows that her self-portrait isn't representative of her best, Weems is firmly in her corner, telling Nola that she was on the Creative Capital board and vouched for her.
Fortunately, audiences can follow Weems and many of the other artists depicted in this episode on Instagram, where they often document their artistic processes.
Carrie Mae Weems
Weems is a well-established photographer who introduces She's Gotta Have It audiences to her piece, The Shape of Things. Not only has she received the MacArthur "Genius" grant, but the photographer helped curate Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection, which will be on display at the Guggenheim until January 2020.
Perhaps Weems's most famous body of work is her Kitchen Table Series, which was initially released in 1990 and depicts Weems posing as a black woman and her family circulating around this household fixture during various phases of their lives.
Not only is Fazlalizadeh the art consultant for She's Gotta Have It, but she's able to introduce herself and her work in Episode 4. As Spike Lee said in a behind-the-scenes video, he first encountered Fazlalizadeh's work on a poster in downtown Brooklyn. "I put it on my Instagram and said, 'Who is this? I want to meet this artist.' And then right away I got a whole lot of responses."
And thus a partnership is born. As Lee explains in the video, anytime you see art in the show — including Nola's paintings — that's Fazlalizadeh's work, including that massive portrait of Malcolm X in the protagonist's apartment. Needless to say, the painter and illustrator is extremely talented and has a powerful series called Stop Telling Women to Smile, which Fazlalizadeh said on Instagram was the inspiration for Nola's My Name Isn't series.
In addition to sculpture, Garner also has a successful tattoo artist career, which she discusses on her other Instagram handle, @flesh_and_fluid. As for her sculpture, the artist presents a piece in She's Gotta Have It called Saartjie's Triangle. Her Art21 bio describes her work as "corporeal sculptures," which "explore the frequently suppressed and traumatic medical histories of the Black body."
Indeed, Garner's most recent series, She Is Risen, was recently on display at the JTT Gallery in New York. One of the pieces in her show, Henrietta: After the Harvest, centered around a black woman named Henrietta Lacks, the gallery's site explains, "whose cervical cancer cells were harvested without her consent or awareness and remain widely used in medical research decades after her death in 1951."
LaToya Ruby Frazier
While this photographer doesn't seem to have a social media presence, she doesn't need one as an established artist. Frazier is well-known for her Flint Is Family series, which is featured in She's Gotta Have It, and her seminal The Notion of Family, which was released as a book in 2016.
Huxtable is a DJ performance artist, painter, and writer, who presents a piece called Transexual Empire at the fictional Nation Time retreat. "For a while I did performance just because that was free and when I had to buy supplies, it was cheap — but when I do performance now, it's because I like the immediacy of it," the multi-disciplinary artist told i-D. "There are other times where I've decided to do self-portraits or make a video or whatever, because it's just what feels appropriate to the idea. That's why I bounce around a lot."
Although the painting that Self presents in the Netflix series is titled Milk Chocolate, this Harlem-born painter also utilizes collage and even sculpture in her work, which typically depicts black, female physiques. "The bodies that my work is talking about are constantly politicized, so it'd be impossible for the work not to be politicized," Self told W Magazine back in 2017. "It's an unavoidable reality, you know?"
Some of Self's earlier works include the animated piece, My Black Ass, and her painting Bellyphat (both 2016), according to W. More recently, she's done a project called Bodega Run, which Self explained on her Instagram is the artist's "continuous study of the bodega, inviting audiences to gain a better understanding of Black metropolitan life." The series has since been shown at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, Art Basel, and L.A.'s Hammer Museum.
Kaphar performs revisionist history with his paintings. Take the piece he presents in She's Gotta Have It — Seeing Through Time — which depicts both the outline of a white, 19th century aristocratic woman, which has been peeled away to reveal an unnamed black girl. "He cuts, crumples, shrouds, shreds, stitches, tars, twists, binds, erases, breaks, tears, and turns the paintings and sculptures he creates, reconfiguring them into works that reveal unspoken truths about the nature of history," Kaphar's website describes.
The painter is perhaps best known for his 2014 painting, Yet Another Fight for Remembrance, which he created for Time as a response to Ferguson. And while the painter doesn't appear to have an Instagram, he does he have a TED Talk called "Can Art Amend History?"
While he plays an artist called Re.MARK.Able in She's Gotta Have It, he goes by UnCuttArt in real life. The artist was born in Haiti, per his website, before moving to the States by himself at the age of 9. UnCutt specializes in murals, like one he did of Malcom X, which also depicted Spike Lee himself.
He's also behind the "Protect Yo Heart" tags per Newsy, which can be found spray-painted around New York City.
Even if She's Gotta Have It audiences are unfamiliar with the other artists in this episode, they've almost certainly heard of Sherald, who painted Michelle Obama's official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery. As Doreen St. Félix wrote in the New Yorker, Sherald's painting of the First Lady "is an intensely private work of art that will seem otherworldly in whichever state gallery hall it is hung.... The portrait, beautiful and discomfiting, is like a memory of what we never knew."
As for the painter's other work, Sherald specializes in portraiture, presenting her piece She Always Believed the Good About Those She Loved (2018) in the Spike Lee series. "In a sense I try to take care of the viewer, to see a self reflected back," the artist told Hyperallergic. "That's a loving self, a gentle presentation of Black identity."
So now that you're more familiar with the artists from She's Gotta Have It's #NationTime episode, you can go follow them on Instagram and stay up-to-date on all of their latest work.