Chicago Booth would like to congratulate Modupeola Fadugba on winning a New York Emmy for the film Dreams from the Deep End. This documentary follows Modupeola as she paints NYC’s only 55+ African American synchronized swim team, the Harlem Honeys and Bears. The work Gossip Girls, part of the London campus collection, is from this series of paintings.
Modupeola Fadugba’s paintings, drawings, and installations engage with her experiences growing up in various countries across the continent of Africa, such as Nigeria, Togo, and Rwanda, as well as her deep interest in education and the Nigerian postcolonial narrative.
Her recent projects use the notion of water as it emerges in numerous layers of the Black experience, whether it be her personal fear of swimming at a young age, stories of swimmers and lifeguards across Africa and the Black Diaspora, swimming as as an educational and community-building apparatus, or the history of public swimming pools in the United States. Gossip Girls belongs to a series of paintings in which Fadugba portrays Black swimmers in and around the pool.
It features two women—one older, one younger—sitting at the edge of a pool and observing others, suggesting that the pool is equally a place of vigorous exercise as well as a site for socializing and building relationships. The golden tones of the painting imbue it with a sense of warmth, while the title adds a dimension of humor, as it refers to two adult women as “girls” engaged in the act of gossiping and brings into the viewer’s mind a contemporary cultural theme.