Iona Rozeal Brown

The artist Iona Rozeal Brown uses her large-scale acrylic paintings to wryly comment on the ductile and ever-changing essence of cultural identity, most often by creating visual mash-ups of two disparate but in fact subtly harmonious subcultures: the samurai and geishas depicted in traditional Japanese ukiyo-e printmaking and the contemporary world of hip-hop. Trained in the art of ukiyo-e herself, Brown pursues a transcultural aesthetic in both her imagery and her technique, mixing the racial, gender, and class issues in her subject matter with the deftness of a DJ.

A recurring character in Brown's work is Yoshi, a wise female war hero—sporting an afro and classical Japanese garb—whose enlightened state allows her to exist as a communicant between divinities and mortals, guiding those still on earth. The artist's paintings have been widely exhibited, and she received a solo show at Cleveland's Museum of Contemporary Art in 2010. In 2011 she was commissioned to create a performance for the Performa biennial.