Artist Jacolby Satterwhite on Creating the Animated World of Solange's New Album
The creative pair are "mutually at the end of our Saturn return," and looking toward the future.
Solange Knowles attends the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/WireImage)
Solange's new album When I Get Home was just released this weekend, but it's already being praised for its "dreamlike," "gorgeous" sound (which, it's worth noting, was mostly recorded in one take.) One of the most powerful aspects of When I Get Home, though, is its visual component; to go along with the 19 tracks on the album, much of which was recorded in Houston's Project Row Houses, Solange released a 33-minute "interdisciplinary performance art film" chronicling life in Texas and featuring an animated segment conceived by artist Jacolby Satterwhite.
Born in Columbia, South Carolina and currently residing in New York, Satterwhite, a multidisciplinary visual artist who has worked with 3D animation for years, has shown everywhere from Gavin Brown's Enterprise to the 2014 Whitney Biennial. His past work draws inspiration from a wealth of sources, including thousands of drawings and a cappella performances left behind by his late mother, which Satterwhite turned into a bona fide concept album complete with "3-D animated film and conceptual gift shop.
Appearing at roughly the 28-minute mark and set to the song "Sound of Rain," Satterwhite's 3D-animated sequence is introduced by onscreen font spelling out the "Cowboy's Prayer"—"I value the earthly land created by your hand as I ride the dusty trail," etc.—before a sparkly blue figure appears alongside an intergalactic-looking, abstract carriage. Bodies sway with particle clouds swarming around them, enthroned figures gyrate in bleachers, and ultimately, a nude, cowboy-hat-wearing man enters an otherworldly, purple-hued space riding a silver horse-butterfly hybrid that sparkles like a disco ball. (It's even trippier than it sounds; watch the full video on Apple Music.)
"The film really derived from a creative meeting I had with Solange in Los Angeles, where we were really vibing, talking about our family histories and stuff," Satterwhite told GARAGE, adding, "We were mutually at the end of our Saturn return, so we were talking about finding a sense of home again, home for her was Houston, Texas's Third Ward, a lot of her mood boards for the project were centered around sacred geometry, black rodeo, and family. I tattooed all those motifs into my own rhythm when I started animating all fall and winter."
Solange and Satterwhite are almost the same age—he's 33 to her 32—and in viewing their film, something about their pairing does seem almost cosmically aligned. "I really believe in that kind of astrology," admits Satterwhite.
On the topic of black rodeo culture, which has garnered increased attention over the past few months—even serving as the focus of a Pyer Moss campaign that spoke to “modern-day cowboys,” including LA's Compton Cowboys and the Cowgirls of Color—Satterwhite credits Solange's roots: "That's where her origins are, she's from Houston, so it's an overlooked high art form she wanted to highlight throughout the entire film. Revivalism is something a lot of artists of many cultures really lean on now that our voices are becoming more bound with agency."
Satterwhite chalks the video's uniqueness to his and Solange's "fruitful exchange of ideas," adding that the collaboration sparked some ideas he's planning to integrate into his own work. He's currently hard at work on a two-floor exhibition for the Fabric Museum in Philadelphia, as well as another concept album commissioned by SFMoMA and "something I'm doing in Switzerland this summer, but that's all I can say." If his new projects incorporate the organic, mind-bending visual poetry of his collaboration with Solange, consider us fully on board.