Our mothers cook up revolutions in their kitchens
They do the things we are still struggling to name ourselves
Feminist-ing… Womanist-ing… Empowering the Girl child
How strong does a person need to be to make meaning out of the meaningless, to make love out of the routine, to create value out of the illegitimate
They just need to be a woman
A black radical woman.
My experience at this exhibition at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, was otherworldly. This was a show by women about women and for women. Actually, it was a show by black women, about black women for black women. I enjoyed everything about it and found it a delight to see how visionary these women were. The issues they painted, wrote, and made films about were the same things my generation of women are fighting for more than three decades later.
Some of the artists featured included: Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Kay Brown, Vivian E. Browne, Linda Goode Bryant, Beverly Buchanan, Carole Byard, Elizabeth Catlett, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Ayoka Chenzira, Christine Choy and Susan Robeson, Blondell Cummings, Julie Dash, Pat Davis, Jeff Donaldson, Maren Hassinger, Janet Henry, Virginia Jaramillo, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Lisa Jones, Loïs Mailou Jones, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Carolyn Lawrence, Samella Lewis, Dindga McCannon, Barbara McCullough, Ana Mendieta, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Howardena Pindell, Faith Ringgold, Alva Rogers, Alison Saar, Betye Saar, Coreen Simpson, Lorna Simpson, Ming Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems. And the event was curated by Catherine Morris, Sackler Family Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Whitney Museum of American Art. CAAM’s presentation was organized by Naima J. Keith, Deputy Director, and Chief Curator.
The exhibition dealt with issues of race, gender, class, feminism, art history and the constitutive nature of art production highlighting these intersectional ties and the artists and activists that gave voice to it. These radical artworks included conceptual, performance, film, and video art, as well as photography, painting, sculpture, and printmaking.
My favorite artwork was a mural by Faith Ringgold. It was called For the Women’s House, and was an installation at the Rikers Island Women’s prison, envisioning the ‘long road ahead’ and the future of what women could do. For more details on this, check out this review:
Overall, I am grateful to have witnessed such a critical juncture for black women, not just in the diaspora but in the continent as well and hope that many of you get to experience it too. Till next time, I’ll leave you with some powerful words by a powerful woman, who spoke at the exhibition.
“You either make history or become victims of history.”
What you gon’ do?