Backstroke of the West: Reflecting on Demanding Memory

I was able to experience Backstroke of the West by Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I have been wanting to experience the exhibit since seeing this description:

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"Also on view are Spoils (2011), a project that saw the artist serve Iraqi date syrup and venison on Saddam Hussein’s very own china, and The invisible enemy should not exist (2007–ongoing), a lifelong project to fabricate at full scale every single item looted from the Iraqi National Museum."

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I am fascinated by the idea of fabricating what as lost, to scale. So you know what was lost then? Imagine that. About 2 or 3 month's ago I asked my mother to record a conversation with me. "I need to capture your story." She flat out refused. "I have no interest in that" and continued playing solitaire.

I wonder if it is the DNA of capitalism to preserve and catalog for no other reason than to prove its existence. Black people know all too well the horrors of a lost (pre)history. So I have to see these for myself, all the while wondering if my mother's inclination is the truer to my (pre)colonial self. What is our attachment to these relics of the past and how does Rakowitz's work interact with that attachment in light of the cultural genocide we know as the afterwords of their destruction.

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Rakowitz's work reclaims the dialogue and holds a place marker for the culture while still allowing it to move forward, to acknowledge the connection between the past and the present. I distinctly Iraqi present even if fingered by the west.

Michael Rakowitz is also responsible for Enemy Kitchen (2003–ongoing), a pop-up food truck that serves Iraqi dishes by the way.

 

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Photography and Intent

 

This could be an article about a lot of things, immigration, remembering, protest, or intersectionality but the thought I keep coming back to photography and intent. What's the focus and the intent of the work? After looking at the exhibit it was clear to me that if you don't clearly see the subject your images will miss them too. That intangible thing that makes you twist your mouth up. Technical beauty isn't always enough, images that witness and speak to what was real last for generations.  This is a key distinction between the images  Ansel Adams took of beautiful landscapes and the American story Dorthea Lange was able to capture. Ansel Adams is undoubtedly a great landscape photographer and his images of the Japanese Internment Camps show that; they also make it clear that his heart wasn't with the people so their story want one he could capture.  Maybe there is a wrong side of photographic history even when your images are beautiful

I attended a black photographers meetup two days before seeing this exhibit and the conversation turned to where the lines should be regarded who is photographed by whom and how intent/proximity effects the shots. Until this exhibit, I thought it would be near impossible for a photographer to authentically capture the lived experience of a community so far removed from their own. I stand corrected thanks to Lange.  Don't be quick to assume that "skin folk are kinfolk" or that small amounts of personal privilege can't be held responsibly. 

By biggest takeaway for my own practice: by clear about why and what your capturing.

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Be Like the Cactus

Let not harsh tongues, that wag
in vain,
Discourage you. In spite of
pain,
Be like the cactus, which through
rain,
And storm, and thunder, can
remain.

by Kimii Nagata

 

Sources: https://japaneseinternmentmemories.wordpress.com/category/japanese-internement-poetry/

 

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Check out the oral history studio to hear the stories of Japanese Americans. This is a spectacular resource for educators.

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the afterwords

She Who Carries Weight by Alexandra Eregbu  debuted new work at the Ralph Arnold Gallery.  I'm still gaining mobility from after the surgery, but I can walk. I need to walk. We walked together, reviewing a particularly difficult day of our homeschooling co-op. Age nine has been a hurricane during a year like quicksand. I feel silly for celebrating the beginning of a new year so joyously. I had no fucking clue. No. Fucking. Clue.

We wait around for the performance in the gallery surrounded but a few subversive pieces. Me quietly hoping nothing sparks my sons desire to talk politics. He wants to understand, inserts himself into conversations, listens to NPR even. I am not in the mood for that weight. Any weight really. I have earned a life of leisure that is not coming. I needed to see another black woman conceptualizes "the weight."

 

I headed to the closing of Janice Bond's Be Careful with Mother exhibition at Filter Photo alone the next night. I'm not sure my Virgo son would have survived all the exposed breasts and bare asses.  The word "careful" stood out to me. It means "don't take risks" when I attach it to goodbye. I didn't get any of that from the exhibit. It was full of the peculiar risk emotional vulnerability and nakedness simultaneously provides. I had to rush back to my car to write down a few things said during the talk and because I had a flight at five in the morning (tragic story. I'll tell you later). One of the things I wrote down was a story about trademarking and women harvesting salt. You're going to have to ask Janice if you want the full story I wouldn't do it justice, so I will not try. But it made me think of a quote from This Bridge Called My Back, my current nonfiction read.

"'Invisibility is an Unnatural Disaster'; and visibility, the most effective strategy to quell the rising tide of discrimination."

Trademarking facilitates theft. 

Later. My flight got canceled, but I got to spend the day looking at art and being with cool people We went to three museums and a gallery. By the time we got to the gallery I just sat on the floor and edited the pictures on my phone. I'm going to have to circle back to that one. I'm only going to talk about Cauleen Smiths exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. It's a call to action. Got me thinking about what we do with what we know and what we have. In the forward to This Bridge Called My back Toni Cade Bambara suggest that it's the Afterwards that matters. All this reading has made Cauleen Smith a dangerous woman. This Bridge Called My Back is on the reading list, so is African Fractals which was a part of Janice Bonds' exhibit the night before. Whenever I begin to notice a thread weaving back and forth like that I know to follow. There is a single thread that runs through everything. 

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she who carries weight  // ralph arnold gallery 

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human 3.0 reading list  // art institute of chicago 

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be careful with mother // filter photo  

Sites, Sounds, Lessons from Mana

Chicago - I headed to Mana Contemporary for their last open house. Grateful for the time alone. Eight year old boys do not always make the best company.

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Her studio was a juxtaposition of the best and worst of contemporary life.  I am starting with Barbara Hashimoto because I love clementines and I still have one more bag of junk mail to shred.

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Barbara used junk mail as her medium, filling a large room with four months of junk mail. Her work shows how overwhelming junk mail, bill and debt really are. Congrats it's not all in your head. Before I headed to Mana, I asked my friend to borrow his shredder so I could attack my pile of mail, three bags at the time. I actually packed a box of junk mail and old bills when I moved to Chicago two years ago. 

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Mail makes me panic, paper makes me uneasy. Even catalogs all of piles and threatens to bury you. I am one of the many turning to minimalism to work dig my way out of the pile of shit that consumes us.  I avoid mail which only means it piles up. Here is a woman taking charge, during piles of credit card solicitations and ads into art. Seeing shredded junk mail used like this was deeply symbolic for me. Seeing it erased. The idea that it could exist in such a serene space without disrupting the energy adding to the creative process rather than just causing paralysis. Two bags of shredding happened as a result of this studio visit. I considered throwing it about my apartment but I settled on watching the video again instead. 

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The juxtaposition of these three balls, the stages of turning junk mail into bronze and this box made of credit card solicitations entitled, In the Red. A video from this series shows mounds and mounds of shredded paper, enough to fill a large room. Slightly stressful to watch tho.

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Let frustration fuel creativity. Burn it away.

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The Transition to Power Series by On The Real Film explores artist reactions to the last presidential election. This series is a great place to start if you want to pull the string on your feeling surrounding the election. This entire presidency is one long sustained trigger for many people including those who are not traditionally marginalized and are therefore enjoying the privilege of being new to the shock of unstable ground. Things are shifting rapidly and the question is will we be mindful enough to lead a revolution that changes the paradigm rather than keeping our exciting power structures and just flipping who benefits. That is not a real revolution.

I am moving and packed away the notebook containing my initial thoughts about the three videos I watched during my visit which is probably for the best. I left, I was writing too many things in my notebook and didn't have time to think between films. I have not processed fully the gravity of the words spoken and the pace was too rapid. If you want to watch, I recommend starting here or here.

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photo from here

photo from here

I would have moved into this space if possible, it was crisp but not sterile. Inviting but not too comfortable. The kinds of place you go when you want to work towards your legacy, submerge yourself in a topic or take great Instagram pictures. Everyone loves large picture frames and hardcover books. The way the spine screams to welcome you. I always imagine it like an old friend calling out "GURL" when we meet up after some time apart. The beginning of a long conversation.  

 
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Do you know about Moishe Mana? Moishe’s Moving? With that Cormac started teaching. I had already received a warm welcome and gained some insight into the realities of being a musician from his dad. He let me know he quit the business as soon as he found out he would be a father. He wanted to be home. He looked the age of man from the time when men stayed far away from home even if the came back every night. A trailblazer, he was the one playing the piano in the music that filled the studio. Cormac told everyone who came in the room to listen out for his father. According to his father Cormac has always had impeccable taste, "he has an eye for these things."  The two were quite a pair and then there were three. Three generations sharing space. Gentle banter about events I wasn't present for but grazed against my entrence.

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Family magnifies all other success.

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I was beaming when I stood in front of his open studio door. I actually wasn't sure I could go in. I was green and wide eyed, probably for the duration of my time at Mana and especially for this first studio visit. As soon as a I saw his space I knew I needed to create images and write. This was just too good. Rory wrote copy for Leo Burrett before he moved on to his next great life. We talked about how he doesn't consider anything but the art he wants to create. He creates constantly and openly. The work is infections, delightful and another word but it escapes me. Something foreign that captures a feeling but doesn't translate. the feeling when your stuff is moved in but unpacked and your alone in your dorm after you first arrive for college freshman year. Imagine that as one word // I accidentally said, "I'm nervous" to which he replied, "Be brave." // He encouraged me to call myself an artist, a writer. Which I did in every other studio. In retrospect this was the perfect place to start my journey on that day.

You can live many great lives in one lifetime [say what you are or someone else will define you].

All photos were taken by me unless otherwise noted.

Blue Black: Moonlight, Mastry + Lightbending

I feel fairly confident a cultural revolution around body acceptance/love for Nigerian women, in general, won't come anytime soon. Nigeria isn't the only country with this issue, and it's not limited to groups of people with universally dark skin, we have all seen Asian women walking around with umbrellas on sunny summer days.

When I was growing up, I remember watching a news report about the lost boys of Sudan, then running into one working at O'hare. My mother pointed him out, but he didn't need an introduction, I had been staring at him long before she noticed him. He was a human giraffe covered in black panther skin. I couldn't decide if I liked how he looked. The white and red in his eyes made him look extraterrestrial, other-worldly. His skin consumed light; I could see it trying to escape, pooling and contouring at the rim of his skin. Otherworldly has never been a substitute for ugly in my mind, butI still wasn't sure what to make of him. That night I lay in bed wondering if I looked like him and why I couldn't decide if I liked it.

Looking back on the colorism that tints universal beauty standards and most African homes, I totally understand why I felt the way I did, but my initial characterization of dark skin itself has stuck with me. I spent years avoiding pictures because of the way my skin ate light. I spent the same amount of time in the grass watching how sunlight interacted with the tiny worlds I had created. Worlds where I was the light bending giraffe.

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The current Black Renaissance has resurfaced my childhood fascination with how dark skin bends light. Like every real Renaissance, art is at the center of revolution.

Lynette Yiadom Boakye discussed how she studied lights interaction with objects and how to capture that in her art. Cauleen Smith shared her quest to master capturing dark skin in film. At dinner a few weeks later, a friend brought up how Atlanta successfully captures dark skin. I had gone to the advanced screening of Moonlight with high expectations, not only for the plot but how dark skin would be represented, that is what stood out to me the most about the trainer.  I asked Tarell Alvin McCraney about the meaning of the movie title, but I already had my mind made up about its meaning. The same as when I first saw the Sudanese man. Moonlight has plenty of emotional to explore, but the bending and consumption of light can't be ignored.

The allusiveness of the capturing dark skin in art is my new fascination; it affirms the magnificence of melanin for me. I can be sure there is nothing grotesque about what it does to light.

Witnessing Mastry by Kerry James Marshall cemented that. He treats darkness as something worth studying and honestly portrays its depth, something fashion magazine spreads never provided me. In Mastery blackness in and of itself is explored not used as a means or contrast to whiteness like most fashion magazine layouts. I would say the same thing about Moonlight. In Mastry and Moonlight darkness does not erase complexity, it heightens it. Both works demand that you look deeper.

This piece I saw on Son of Baldwin's fb page but now can't find (boo) brought to my attention the potential for blackness without darkness as the norm in society; The article talked about the preference for blackness without dark skinned bodies. I tried to imagine aworld without walking light-bends, our bodies once again confined to museums and books of curiosities.

All Images from our visit to see Mastry at the Museum of Contemporary Art In Chicago

tend

i woke up to myself, scrubbed off the gloss

and revealed the shine.

turned my face to the sun

and planted my heart in fertile ground.

nourished by salt water and time. i have made

these lands my home. I am home.

the first place he ever lived.  fertile ground

the source of life sustaining meals.

 

bare witness.

it's on you

                                            Your parents will get over it.

They will get over it.

                They will get over it.

if you pierce your nose and maybe your nipples, for good measure
if you decide you love the art and starve
if you have the baby and promise to finish school
if you kiss girls and let your nail polish chip
if date that person anyway and live to regret it
same for if you marry them
if you tape things to the wall and eat straight out of the delivery container

           when you stand up straight and know who you are

they will get over it


get over it
it's
over

Old Black Magic

Today my son repeated a part of a poem we heard during Old Black Magic almost a week ago.

"Preacher Man says you can have peace if you believe in the same God. Politician Man says you can have peace if the price is right."

We tried to remember if that is exactly how it went and then he casually mentioned "how good" that poem was. "That guy was cool," before walking off to brush his teeth before bed. We consume a lot of art, and I sometimes wonder what he things. What sticks, what matters to his young mind.

I have said before that I want him to know that there are many ways to be a person, a healthy human. There is space to be yourself in artist communities, and Chicago has an exceptionally vibrant artist community. He also got to take a picture with Sam Trump after listening to him accompany an immensely talented dancer.

My experience at the event confirmed the effectiveness of the energy work that I have been doing. I felt significantly less social anxiety. I committed to embracing "black magic" last year. By that I mean, pre-colonial spiritual knowledge as just that. As someone who studied religion in college, I know that modern Christianity incorporated pre-colonial rituals and a strong argument can be made that it is an evolution of our understand of God but that only made decolonizing my religious practice slightly easier.

Old Black Magic was right on time, for both of us. Art is a vital part of deconstruting what harms us. 

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Check out @ProductionColors

Check out @ProductionColors

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I made the mistake of not bringing a snack, so we ended up at Pleasant House Pub down the street. The drinks alone are worth the trip, and the bathroom is an extra bonus. I know, but the bathroom is unnecessarily beautiful.

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We all ended up heading to Hidden Figures after this. Long night, but worth the 4 hour nap I took two days later (the next day was lit too). Hidden Figures is a topic for another post tho. If you haven't seen it please do.

Reflecting on What The Body Knows

You could learn to fly if it meant you would live another day.
— Maame, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

More Information about Barak Ade Soleil

The space was hollow and small. glass doors on one end, wooden doors on the other. behind our seats, a row of windows overlooked large spotlights, the source of the other worldly light.  We were standing on the stage but we didn't know then we where a part of the performance. We would be moved in every sense of the word. On paper the performance was about exploring the interaction of race and disability thru dance. I am not sure that description does the depth of the work justice. I saw it as an essay in three parts.  

Part I :

He pushed thru the curtains without announcement. He didn't to ask for silence,  his silence demanded it. From the beginning his movements demanded so much from the audience. They reminded me of the yoga poses I hate to press myself into. Uncomfortable and peculiar but opening spaces within you that would otherwise go unexplored. The sounds of discomfort was part of the dance. The sound forced the discomfort back into your own body. He grunted and moaned, resurrecting the familiar ache of depression.

The Body Knows the Mind is in Control.

We confronted the sound of discomfort but also defiance. The frantic nature of determination when your mind and body are both enemy and ally.

ade Soleil pushed us to see him beyond the discomfort of movement, the story did not begin or end there. We watched him dripping in gold, slow winding in the familiar ecstasy of freedom. Bare chested and looking you straight in your soul, he dared you to look away. He forced each of us to confront what ever it was you felt watching him come thru like the dance hall queen completely owning his body and his sensuality. Edgeless and feeling triumphant, I couldn't have been prepared for the final chapter of part one.

I still don't know exactly what to make of the closing. It didn't understand why. What happened. I wish I could say it didn't invoke another familiar feeling. If you have ever stripped yourself bare you may understand it too. Some people see you as a full person others use it to dehumanize you. I felt like I was looking at that dehumanization, he pressed it into us. He made us think he needed us to hand feed him, made us feel sorry for him, for ourselves. I silently begged not to be chosen, felt frustrated by the variety of responses of those who were. No one spoke but everyone communicated. Shifting, avoiding eye contact, delighting in the feeding, contorted faces, "reading" the program, every movement communicated something. All different all telling.  He was watching us, we were performing too. He danced a complex set of emotions, unraveled a complex humanity and focused us to reconsider ourselves and our way of relating, rationalizing, hiding.


Part II

Jerron began his performance from the opposite side. The glass doors. Standing tall and straight. He marched in with wide steps hitting the floor hard. Each boom shacking the foundation of our expectations. My son whispered, "he doesn't have a disability."  I contemplated what my silence on disabilities had thought my child as I watched Jerron work to get his hand in his pocket, considered the beauty in the movement.  It wasn't swift or effortless and that's what made it such a beautiful part of the performance. Disability usually comes up on an as needed bases, to explain why accommodations are needed or to prevent my child from saying anything insensitive or looking too hard.

The Body Knows that if Used Carefully it Can Control the Mind of Another.

Jerron's performance took up a tremendous amount of space. His movements where large and his interactions with the audience were genial, in sharp contrast ade Soleil's solo performance. The privilege of taking up space, to move around as much as you like meant he stood directly in front of me but did not see me. He was in a world all his own. A world in plain sight I had never taken the time notice but have no access too. My approach was wrong, I had taught my child to see but ignore a type of difference.


Part III

The spotlights cast multiple shadows of varying density for each dancer. Amplifying there movements. What does movement cost us? Watching both men drip sweat, pushing , pulling, and twisting. The two men shared a stage. There movements were about relationship. Each performer relying on the other for support. Engaging the floor and wall as part of the dance. Their proximity to each other's bodies struck me a particularly bold, two black men are rarely seen in this way. They are not allowed to be so free they love their mirror image. They are not allowed to hold their sons so tight for so long. We allow them sexuality but never intimacy.

Even in the mist of such heavy emotion finding peace in the base and the bounce. I loved the abrupt change to club music, watching both men bouncing to the base. Feeding off each others energy reminding me to get out my feelings and enjoy the moment. I needed those breaks. Music that is all too often hyper masculine and problematic but so #unapologeticallyblack it still creates a common ground.

The Body Knows the Power of the Mind is Not Absolute.

There was much more to the performance than I am able to capture. As a parent I can't help but wonder what was going thru my sons mind and he watched with furrowed brows. I do know that conversation the dance inspired between us was much needed and one of the longest we have had in a while. I decided I wouldn't attempt to explain the dance. Really how could I pretend to know what the artist was thinking. What emotions he wanted the call forward? Maybe my explanation would spoil his insight. Instead we talked about the power of the mind, the need to consider the complexity of each persons identity and the need to be honest with yourself about your own complexity.

 

With Jerron

With Jerron

Margins to Frontiers: New Paradigms of #BlackMagic

I had the pleasure of attending the New Paradigms panel discussion with Thelma Golden, Glenn Ligon, Lynette Yiadom Boakye, and Cauleen Smith on October 20th at the Art Institute of Chicago. Thelma Golden was a wonderful moderator. She drew her questions for ever dimension of this space time continuum them cast them like a spell drawing out pounds of marinated taught for our greedy consumption. It seemed as tho she could walk on the plane of thought pointing out nuances in the landscape we may have missed. Other times her questions provided a needed boundary for more targeted exploration.

The thing that still stands out to me was the discussion of what is means to be a black artist right now. It seems there is a critical mass of black art and artist. There is no longer a need/urgency for comparing black artists to white artists or framing the work in the context of the white gaze. It reminded me of an article I recently read in the Harvard Business Review about "New Power."

"New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it."

Her mention of margins and centers, which happens to be the title of a very personally influential book by bell hooks,  made me wonder if she would identify her source of power as "new." She is absolutely a disrupter in the field and I THINK forged in the fires of black feminist taught and critical race theory so her response to the first question by a gentleman about the "feeling of outsiderness' is something I will be mulling over for some time. Let me start by saying that every artist rejected the notion of being an outsider. Which, I think, relates to the very strong shared sentiment that there is a critical mass of black artists," we have our own" so to speak. Here my mind wonders about Solange, the success of her new album and the surge of collective black action in support of black makers.

So the question that sticks in my mind is "outside of what?" Thelma Golden flipped the visuals to what is in the margin and what is in the center. She said "we now know that we where at the edge and everything was moving in that direction." The edge, then would be the forefront.  Time has proved her and her contemporaries right. Those thoughts that had been marinating since the 80s and 90s are now highly prized for intellectual consumption by audiences of varying densities of melanin.  

Charles hanging out with his book before the discussion started.

Charles hanging out with his book before the discussion started.

I think Lynette Yiadom Boakye response was the most soothing. For her, being an artist is about feelings of outsiderness. Artists tend to think themselves outside of something, whatever that something is. There is a deep preoccupation with inward thinking and a tendency towards introversion that is common in artists. An artists "something" then in a matter of scale and for this particular panel race relations/anxiety between white and black was the incorrect scale. A blanket of steaming complex black narratives. I think each arists response to what was critical influence for them revealed a bit about what they feel outside off and the rhythm that moves them.

I wanted to sit in my seat and watch everyone leave, their bodies would serves as the credits for a film a can never see again but I ran out, rushing Charles to be bathroom and worrying about how I would navigate the reception. I waited outside the bathroom stall contemplating my own outsider feelings. Outside of artist circles of any kind, outside of the Chicago academic circles, outside of black middle-class status. Outside of anything that seemed relevant in this space. I clumsily walked thru the reception putting to anemic wedges of pita on an absurdly large plate before finding us a quite corner to sit it. I tried to recap with my son who reminded me that he spent the entire time reading his book. We left shortly after. I felt desperate looking at the faces as they passed searching for an indication that they my be open to a conversation with a stranger. Troubling work in such a bright open space.

 

Glenn Ligon
A Small Band, 2015
Neon and paint
74 3/4 x 797 1/2 inches
(189.9 x 2025.7 cm)

Image from LUHRING AUGUSTINE

I want to talk endlessly about Glenn Ligon in this post but I am going to save it because i learned that he is currently installing this piece at the Stony Island Arts Bank! The Rebuild Foundation has already started advertising Ligon's presence in the space and I am really looking forward to attending and writing about the piece and the artist then. Stay Tuned.

LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE, Citrine by the Ounce, 2014, oil on canvas, 21 7/8 x 17 13/16 inches, 23 10/16 x 19 9/16 inches (framed), LYB14.006, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

IVORY_ANTHROPOLOGY_white-out_on_magazine_tearsheets

Friday Finds

This week went by fast!! I'm looking forward to a lot of the events happening over the weekend. Be sure to check out the FindingBlackJoy Facebook page for a roundup of black lead events in the Chicago. This week has been a journey in confidence to say the least but along the way I stumbled upon some great stuff that brought me joy. I decided to add points again so if you run into any of these great artists or evidence of their work be sure to share it on social media (instagram&twitter) using #FindingBlackJoy.

1// From August 5 through September 1, the 22nd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival.

1// From August 5 through September 1, the 22nd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival.

2// BGIO Podcast Ep. 003 - Five Challenges on our Self-Care Journeys (8 pts)

2// BGIO Podcast Ep. 003 - Five Challenges on our Self-Care Journeys (8 pts)

4//The Very Black Project (5 pts)

4//The Very Black Project (5 pts)

 
3// Leon Bridges (5 pts)

3// Leon Bridges (5 pts)

5// Sam Trump (8 pts)

5// Sam Trump (8 pts)

Friday Finds

This week I launched FindingBlackJoy an extension of Kedu_Life because I found myself seeking out local black lead events and brands. I will be hosting events and curating event and projects listings of all kinds. Check us out on Facebook and Instagram

I am always running into cool stuff so why not also start a Friday Finds post? Sharing is caring. The first Friday Findsalso gives a peak into how the Scavenger Hunt will be formated. If you come across any of these things snap a selfie and use #findingblackjoy to share on Instagram or Twitter. These are NOT actual scavenger hunt items. At the end of the weekend, we will share more about each item.

1

1

4 An AMFM logo or fotage of an event (8 pts)

4 An AMFM logo or fotage of an event (8 pts)

5 A black owned store (8 pts)

5 A black owned store (8 pts)

2 Art by Chicago-based artist Shani Crowe (8 pts)

2 Art by Chicago-based artist Shani Crowe (8 pts)

3

3

Fertile Enough for Love

If I knew a love as great as this was coming, I would never have settled. I would love to say that I am a girl who has always known her worth and never took off her crown but that would be smoke and mirrors. I have to catch myself when I am tempted to tangle myself in regret or loose my senses in the possibility of a forever love. There is also that task of keeping myself open to the possibility of it, I think if I'm honest it is more like not letting the fear that it will not happen keep me from trying. I have a robust understanding of why self-love is said to be a revolutionary act and being loved gives you courage. 

Love is blooming in ways I would have never imagined because I am now fertile enough to allow it, I want it. I am learning to nurture it and patiently let it grow. A true love forces you to nurture yourself. It demands that you see yourself the way it sees you. Some people need a haphazard, rollercoaster kind of love. 

The love that has grown beside me is peaceful and diligent. You see, he gets up every morning and goes to work, sends a message midday and comes home in the evening. This is the kind of love that shows up humbly at your front down with its hat in its hand placed gently over its heart.

 My son anticipates his arrival like the tetris piece that completes the row. 

There are days when the act of blending a family and learning to let love grow feel a long way away but in the quite moments his dedication is undeniable. Everyday he chooses us and everyday we bask in his light.

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