This week I was absolutely in awe walking through the tent to witness this piece by Kenita Hale titled “The After Party”.
Kenita Hale is a fine arts major and is currently a senior at Simi Valley College. This particular piece was hand-crafted and the faces sculpted out of clay then painted with bronze. The curtains and outside of the exhibit was made to resemble a circus tent, with thin black fabric. Each alter presented a person/persons that were seen as freaks and cash cows in the time that they were living.
At first, seeing the pitch dark room, candles, and the colors of royalty, I thought this piece was going to be about religion each person was bronze and surrounded by a shrine. As I got closer I realized it was much different than that, a praise to ordinary people-except they were not ordinary at all.
The night before I saw this, I watched American Horror Story: Freakshow and was amused at how much the piece resembled the many people portrayed in the “freakshow”, such as the “Bearded lady” and “Siamese twins” with two heads that shared one body. In the show and in life, these people were treated horribly, teased, and discriminated, seen as freaks of nature and couldn’t live a normal life because of their unusual features. Many were put in circuses and used as a way to make money while people were terrified/entertained by their appearance.
Kenita Hale’s, “The After Party”, shows these special people in another light. Instead of a spotlight they are displayed in the darkness, only visible by dim candle light. Instead of being humiliated and looked down upon, they are displayed in beautiful alters that portray them as god-like. Their differences are being praised instead of being met with disgust. I love this message that we are all beautiful, and love the statement this piece makes, giving respect to these people who were so oppressed.
If you are inspired and would like to learn more about Kenita Hale and “The After Party” you can visit: