Najee Strickland is set to premiere “Black Fist Series® Pt. II” during a free, red-carpet affair downtown at Fourth Bluff Park on Thursday evening.
Strickland, a Memphis native first recognized on the art scene for his drawings and fashions, stars in the short film as the lead character dealing with a “black inferiority complex.” The film is billed as tracking a day in the life of a Black male facing social issues and propaganda as he tries to assimilate into society while finding ways to express his individuality and creative ability.
Attendees are encouraged to wear formal or semi-formal attire to the premiere, which will feature live music by Tia and spoken word by francis, the Truman. Set for 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the event has limited seating, with tickets available on Eventbrite.
The short film also stars Strickland’s daughter, Londyn Emille, and Jeanelle Jones (aka Tbj or Toothbrush Jesus), who additionally will perform an expressionist dance. Directed by Blake Heimabch of Hotkey Studios, it was written, produced and co-directed by Strickland.
The Black Fist Series® is pitched as “a visual installation of paintings and films that focus on issues such as social proximity, social injustice, propaganda, and media stigmas in the black/brown community.”
“Black Fist Series® Pt. I” was released in 2018.
Strickland credits ArtsMemphis, along with Hotkey Studios, for “enabling me to share my gift through film.” His goal with the series is to “uplift the community, encourage the youth and manifest change by keeping people informed of our history and our present.
“I also hope to spark the minds of the next generation so they will keep exposing injustice and fighting for change,” he said.
Strickland netted a 2020 ArtsMemphis Accelerator Grant, which provides funds to help artists at critical junctures in their careers.
“Najee was one of six recipients of this particular grant,” said Elizabeth Rouse president/CEO of ArtsMemphis. “It was a very competitive process and is awarded to artists who our panel of judges felt, based on their accomplishments, could use it to expose more people to their art possibly propelling their career forward and helping them generate income from their art.”
A self-taught designer and stylist, many were introduced to Strickland through his wearable art, which singer/dancer Mila J. featured during a photoshoot
(For more information, visit https://www.theblackfistseries.com/.)