Every piece of your childhood is going to die. Given enough attention over a long enough span of time, the darkest shit that quietly existed behind the most beautiful aspects of your formative years will eventually come to light. And thanks to the internet, nothing will be spared. Of course, it doesn’t help if your childhood hero spent his highly visible, “family-friendly” 53 year career sexually assaulting women.
At this point, Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by at least 34 women, with new cases popping up every week or so now. Given the fact that much of Bill Cosby’s work over the years has been either directly intended for children (Fat Albert, The Electric Company), or of a family-friendly nature (pretty much everything he’s ever done), his actions over the years were bound to destroy a few childhoods.
One such childhood is that of the young Rodman Edwards, a 15 year old artist and sculptor. Edwards’ father, artist Daniel Edwards (a fan of Cosby’s work), shared a love of Bill Cosby with his son through recordings of the children’s show Fat Albert, an educational animated series created by, produced by, and starring Bill Cosby. With allegations against Cosby rising to the surface and gaining public attention for the first time in the many years since some of the described events occurred, Edwards felt compelled to respond to this perversion of “America’s Dad” into something so antithetical to the man and characters he’s been known for over the years – primarily the lovable, idealized father figure Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show.
To this end, Rodman Edwards has proposed a replacement for the busts of Bill Cosby displayed in front of Disney’s Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Halls of Fame in Hollywood and Orlando: a statue of Bill Cosby, standing fat and naked, whose genitals have been replaced by a tiny, naked and crying Fat Albert.
It is glorious.
On display at The Showroom in St. Pete, the remarkable/hilarious work currently consists of a series of digital sculptures of the statue, along with several busts of the crying Fat Albert, and Cosby in one of his signature Cosby Sweaters. These digital works are displayed as physical prints hung along the walls of the small gallery, with a copy of the Press Release for the work, consistent with The Showroom’s premise as the world’s first public relations gallery. Cory Allen, the owner of The Showroom and Cory Allen Contemporary Art (CACA), and spokesperson and publicist for Edwards, brings focus to the public relations aspect of artwork, displaying pieces alongside their press releases rather than a title, often accompanied by an iPad on which guests can browse relevant internet news on the piece or the focus of the work in question. This leads to much of the gallery’s work being controversial, or at least having a strong message behind the work (which is no exception here).
Edwards has plans to sculpt the physical version of the statue, which, in the event the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences does not take it, will be displayed at The Showroom here in St. Pete.
Rodman Edwards can be found online, and on Facebook.
The Showroom is open by appointment only, and is located at 2121 2nd Avenue South in St. Pete.
Cory Allen Contemporary Art can be found online or on Facebook.