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Sky’s The Limit In The County of Kings

Source: The Billie / The Billie

A new exhibition featuring a now-iconic statue of The Notorious B.I.G. opened to the public in Brooklyn, hoping it will inspire a new generation of artists.

Last Thursday (Feb. 15), a new visual art exhibition exploring the Black resistance through music held its opening reception at The Billie Holiday Theatre in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The exhibition, Sky’s The Limit: Music Is My Resistance is a celebration of that spirit exemplified in the works of several artists with the majestic statue of Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace named “Sky’s The Limit In The County of Kings” an homage to Bed-Stuy’s native son. The sculpture, created by artist Sherwin Banfield, is the centerpiece of the exhibit kicking off during Black History Month.

The reception kicked off with opening remarks from Hollis King, the creative director at The Billie Holiday Theatre, who spoke about the importance of the exhibition to the crowd and what it means for Black art.

“Ninety-four percent of Black art is not owned by people like you,” he began before informing the audience that every piece in the exhibition is available for purchase, including the “Sky’s The Limit” statue. He then gave way to a beatbox solo by artist, Derick Cross, who has five original pieces available in the exhibit. Other works from the 21 artists featured in the exhibit include photographs of joyful scenes taken at Restoration Plaza where the theater is located, with one collection of photographs capturing Bob Marley and the Wailers along with Stevie Wonder during their U.S. tour. There are also other sculptures by Banfield showing the evolution of how he crafted the “Sky’s The Limit” statue.

“Collectively as the Billie Holiday team, we knew that our season was going to be centered around resistance, which is how we came up with this lovely mantra,” Shadawn Smith, executive director of The Billie Holiday Theatre said of the concept behind the exhibition. “That is how we’re moving forward. And so in that, we’re like, ‘let’s focus on music as this style of our mode of resistance for Black people in particular.'”

“Then in conversation with Sherwin Banfield it became ‘Hey, the Biggie needs a new home, the best home for it to be is here in Bed-Stuy. How can we make it happen and bring it here to the Billie Holiday Theatre and at the same time, also work with other local artists around who have these amazing pieces that speak to this theme?’” she continued.

Smith also stated that this will be the launch of a new series of artistic programming at The Billie.

Cross spoke about his reaction upon being invited to the exhibition by King as he stood before one of his pieces inspired by one of Biggie’s iconic lines from “Juicy” entitled “Let My Tape Rock ‘Till My Tape Popped.”

“I’m like okay, I’m down,” he said, “When? He told me the time and I’m like, ‘What’s the theme?’ He told me, ‘It’s gonna be tied to the sculpture.’ And so the first thing that popped into my head was this piece.”

The evening was punctuated by the unveiling of the 9-foot-tall statue by Banfield. DJ Jahmed played the late icon’s track from the Life After Death album as the statue was uncovered to a rousing cheer from the crowd. Before that moment, Banfield spoke about the statue’s journey from its first installation last year steps from the Brooklyn Bridge at Clumber Corner to now.

“Now, we’re here in its third place, from international to Brooklyn, to home,” Banfield said. “Home, whether it’s Fulton Street or St. James Place. I’m just so honored to be a vessel for this piece, as we’re celebrating Hip-Hop’s 50 years.”

Banfield will return to The Billie for an artist talk with Hip-Hop historian Leroy McCarty and the legendary DJ, producer and VJ Ralph McDaniels of Video Music Box on Feb. 28. Sky’s The Limit: Music Is My Resistance will be on display at The Billie Holiday Theatre until May and is free for the public to attend during its regular operating hours.

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