Edreys Wajed is a multidisciplinary creative artist based in Buffalo New York. He is an active draftsman, painter, jeweler, designer, curator, hip-hop emcee and producer under the pseudonym Billy Drease Williams. He is also an educator and the co-proprietor of the entrepreneurial creative venture Eat Off Artwith his partner and wife Alexis Wajed. He is a father, and the son of creative artists spanning at least three generations in Buffalo. His work has been featured by the Albright Knox in their Freedom Wallproject completed in 2017, and by the Buffalo Sabres who presented his modified logo Breaking Barriersin 2021 honoring Val James, the National Hockey Leagues’ first African American player who made his NHL debut with the team in 1981.
For the exhibition The Bridge Wajed has created works that explore the culture and language of Hip Hop, a musical genre with roots that go back more than fifty years, almost exactly paralleling his life, with important early moments in the genre taking place just months before his birth. In an artist statement he states:
I probe and meander proficiently through music, video, theater, metal smithing, illustration and painting, seeing art as language with which I am multilingual. I investigate humanity through storytelling, consumerism and social justice, with an affinity for the beauty of human error in handmade objects, mark-making and documenting human experience.
Works produced for this exhibition explore encoded language unique to Hip Hop culture, and the different forms of nonverbal communication used by those within it. Wajed seeks to decode parts of this language and create a bridge to make it more accessible, presenting work with a visual aesthetic that warmly invites the outsider in while also welcoming home individuals with similarly lived experiences.