Solange's Snapchat Is Modern Art, Belongs in a Museum

Photo: Emmanuel Hapsis

This piece was inspired by an episode of The Cooler, KQED's weekly pop culture podcast. Give it a listen!


Solange Knowles is known for many things: sharing genetics with Beyoncé, being a great musician in her own right (start here), starring in a Bring It On sequel with Hayden Panettiere that I have yet to see but probably should, throwing the most aesthetically mind-blowing wedding ever, exacting Mortal Kombat-style revenge on her sister's trifling husband, etc.

Something else that should be added to this list of achievements: having her Snapchat content displayed on the walls of a museum. Under the account name nappyandsnappy, Solange elevates a social media platform known for being a black hole of flower crown selfies into an ephemeral modern art gallery, subverting the notion that social media is inherently frivolous or meaningless.

Findings from a National Endowment for the Arts study reveal a marked decline in museum attendance among people between the ages of 18 and 34. Another study found that Millennials prefer Instagram and Pinterest to museums and galleries for discovering art. And The New York Times says there is concern in the art world that young people aren't into experiencing art in a traditional way:

Curators worry most about millennials. How do static galleries of canvas and artifact engage a generation raised on the reactive pleasures of right swipes and hyperlinks? How do you sell Goya when “Game of Thrones” is a click away?

The "kids just don't care about art these days" refrain is a myth. Millennials love meaningful expression just like all the generations that came before; we're just a little more open to redefining what we consider art, where that art exists and who we accept as an artist.

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So back to Solange.

When a 24-hour period goes by and I realize I've forgotten to check in with her, perhaps missing a few of her videos or images, that '90s feeling of having missed the airing of a favorite TV show comes flooding back. The difference is that at least back then you could catch the missed episode during summer reruns. If you blink and miss a Solange Snap, you're just out of luck. You've played yourself.

Before you suggest that I'm being a bit hyperbolic about the power and importance of Solange's Snapchat, here's proof that I'm not alone in feeling a spiritual connection with it:

 

So you might be wondering: What kind of things does she post? Glad you asked 'cause I screen grab or write down every inspiring, beautiful thing that happens. Here are a few favorites:

Solange creates a couture gown out of a plastic dry cleaning bag.

solange snapchat dry cleaning

Solange caresses a rainbow while listening to Joni Mitchell.

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Solange films "molecules" dancing in a cup of tea.

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Solange transforms just another concrete walkway into a Rothko installation.

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Solange conducts a zoom study on color and stamens.

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Solange investigates the idea that there might be multiple versions of us living out the consequences of every decision we didn't make in parallel universes. Also investigates looking fine in a full-length mirror and the aesthetic value of flash photography.

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Solange meditates on the idea that light is actually just waves of electromagnetic radiation. Or maybe just meditates on how awesome the lamp selection at Target is.

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Celestial emojis: the new paint.

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Can a skirt be art? You better believe it.

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Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, 2016.

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Pocket couture.

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Materials: the reflection, refraction and dispersion of light. Canvas: face.

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Sometimes we end up with the wrong person. Sometimes a door doesn't fit its door frame.

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New Orleans' Red Dress Run in honor of breast cancer research or an art collective flash mob that hopes to raise awareness around the fact that the red in your Starbucks strawberry frappuccino comes from dead bugs?

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Every artist has a muse. On this night, Solange's was her empty stomach and a burger somewhere out there, beneath the pale moon light.

solange snapchat burgersolange burger snapchat

You are who you ride shotgun with. Solange is Erykah Badu. Erykah Badu is Solange.

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All artistic genius and no play would make anyone a dull Snapchatter, so Solange finds ways to let loose and have some fun.

Like the time she raided her friend's closet and tried everything on while she was out on a date:

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Or that time she snuck up on Bey.

Or that time she celebrated getting a babysitter by going to the orchestra and making her hand dance in the wind out of a car window:

Or the time she got estranged mama Tina and papa Matthew together to rep for Houston:

Partly because we don't get to keep all the things we love in life, and partly because sometimes my screenshot fingers are too damn slow, some Solange Snapchat moments will only live on within this minimalist bulleted list:

  • Solange captures slo-mo droplets of water falling into a bathtub.
  • Solange catches light with fingertips dipped in glitter.
  • Slo-mo Solange runs backwards.
  • Solange flickers a light, while making a regal pose.
  • Solange holds a history lesson on the culture that's come out of her native Third Ward neighborhood in Houston.
  • Solange listens to Madonna's "Take a Bow" while driving.
  • Solange watches Pocahontas.

I could easily go on, but I don't need to. After taking this all in, Solange is already artist-in-residence in your heart by now.

Those gushing tweets from before don't seem so crazy anymore, do they?

For even more Solange thoughts and feelings, get a load of this episode of The Cooler:

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