A lot of people proclaim a need for independence, for space. And while I could attest to that, more than anything, I was a tiger dying amongst the sprawling jungle. I longed for a cage of my own. My apartment, a two bedroom overlooking the gentrification of Philadelphia, had a décor of my design. I picked out the furniture, including the Ikea futon I dubbed “death trap,” and gave every trinket and knick-knack their designated spots: high school diploma and Bachelor’s degree over my black computer desk, novelty shot-glasses along the top of my bookcase and various Buddha figurines, from flea markets in South Jersey, on my dresser and nightstands. And of course, my vinyl collection, a two hundred piece of my heart that took me to the dustiest, most allergenic music stores on the East Coast.
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The Finding Aid: Black Women at the Intersection of Art and Archiving is an interactive, multi-media dialogue that explores the intersection of experimental art practices and community-based archiving.
The event’s organization is based on the idea of a finding aid. A finding aid is a document used in archives for accessibility and discovery. We will transform a finding aid from an archival inventory/guide into an artistic archival experience.
Our goal for this event is that people leave knowing what an archive and archivist is or can be, and that people feel empowered to begin their own archival/artistic practice or feel moved to engage with existing archives.
Joyce-LeeAnn is a writer, archivist and performance artist from Denver, Colorado based in Brooklyn, New York. She received a BA in Writing and Literature from Naropa University via Hampton University. She received a MILS with an Archives Certificate from Pratt Institute. She works as a professional project archivist. Joyce-LeeAnn’s writing explores the poetics of archival processing and investigates ways to tell stories through preserved documents. Subjects covered in her prose | poetry include: grief, healing processes, beautiful moments, writings on restroom walls and a fragment of black Denver history. Her experimental literary performances usually include a makeshift typewriter-drum-kit.
Kameelah Janan Rasheed (b. 1985) is a photo-based artist, writer, and educator from East Palo Alto, CA based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a Gallery/Studio Instructor at the Brooklyn Museum as well as a public school teacher working with court involved youth in East New York. Kameelah’s work enlists archival as well as archeological traditions to explore collective memory and her family narratives through found images from eBay and estate sells, material objects, and original photography. An object-based body of work, she interrogates the trinity of spatial trauma within Black communities — homelessness, incarceration, and forced migration and how this influences both collective memory and the way we reconstruct narratives from material fragments. Currently, she is an Artist-in-Residence at the Center for Book Arts. In 2012, Kameelah was an Artist-in-Residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. She will have her first solo exhibit at Real Art Ways in July 2013 tentatively entitled The Imagined Archive. A former Fulbright Scholar to South Africa, Kameelah received her Master of Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Arts in Policy and Africana Studies from Pomona College.
Marilyn Nance is an American visual artist known for her images of 20th century African American life—spirituality, music, art, and African retentions, She grew up through many movements—The Civil Rights Movement, Black Power, Black Arts, Anti War, Students Rights, the Women’s Movement, and the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
A two-time finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Award in Humanistic Photography, her photographs can be found in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and in the Library of Congress.
Image © Albert Chong
Arianne Edmonds is a Los Angeles native, storyteller and archivist. Her historical collection spans from 1886-1950 and explores the uniqueness of early black Los Angeles, through the lens of genealogy. She received her Bachelors of Science in Communications, from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and started her career in educational media at Sesame Workshop. She currently works with the Taproot Foundation managing consultant relations and community partnerships.
Ladi’Sasha Jones is a is a collector and witness worker of oral history narratives with a special interest in documenting Black women’s stories and Black American family life. She approaches her documentation practice by working from the intersections of cultural equity and collective community memory.
Currently, Ladi’Sasha is working on the curation of a public forum to share her collection of oral history records via a digital sound art gallery — coming Summer 2013. Having earned her B.A. in African American Studies from Temple University in 2010 and a M.A. in Arts Politics from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2012, she recently completed a Certificate in Oral History from Baylor University in April of 2013. She aims to move towards freelancing and sharing her documenting services with community and cultural arts organizations along with individual artists.
Shawn(ta) Smith is a lesbian separatist, writer, archivist and reference librarian. Her essays blend storytelling with documentation and archiving. Her work will appear in “Black Gay Genius Interview with Lisa C. Moore” in Black Gay Genius: Joseph Beam and In the Life (forthcoming). She is currently editing a new anthology Her Saturn Returns: Queer Women of Color Life Transitions, a compilation of narratives of queer women and color in their Saturn. Shawn is a collective member of the Lesbian Herstory Archives and the WOW Cafe Theater where she co-produces Rivers of Honey, a monthly Cabaret highlighting the art of women of color. Shawn is pursuing her MFA in Fiction at Queens College while working as a reference & instruction librarian at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the former Archive Coordinator for StoryCorps.
Photo © Arianne Benford
Sonia Louise Davis (b. 1988, New York City) is an artist and photographer. Using a large format view camera, her work mines the public and private archive, exploring collective memory and family history through site-specific and community-based projects. Sonia is currently participating in the Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) Program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. An honors graduate of Wesleyan University, she holds a BA in African American Studies, with a concentration in Music and Visual Art.
Born in Las Vegas, Salome Asega is an Ethiopian visual artist and independent curator working in Brooklyn. She received her BA in Transnational Visual Art and Social Practice from the Gallatin School at NYU and is currently an MFA candidate in the Design and Technology program at Parsons The New School for Design. She is also a founding member of theSistah Friends Project.
To celebrate Short Story Month, we’ve asked some awesome writers, editors, and other literary types to weigh in on their favourite stories and collections, and what makes a piece of short lit great. Today, writer and editor Leesa Cross-Smith.Best Short Story Collections I Read In The…
I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose) someone will try to make you feel lousy about it.
Going through a drawer I found the submissions/applications log I’ve kept off and on over the years. Just in case you think it’s all been roses I’d like to report that Yaddo rejected me (as recently as 2011). McDowell rejected me. Hedgebrook rejected me twice. The Georgia Review rejected me and Ploughshares rejected me and Tin House rejected me, as did about twenty other journals and magazines. Both The Sun and The Missouri Review rejected me before I appeared in their pages. Literary Arts declined to give me a fellowship three times before I won one. I’ve applied for an NEA five times and it’s always been a no. Harper’s magazine never even bothered to reply. I say it all the time but I’ll say it again: keep on writing. Never give up. Rejection is part of a writer’s life. Then, now, always.
Fiction. An old news story ago sparked this piece that I wrestled with for about five years before it was finished. As I wrote it I felt sick, scared, overwhelmed, even a weird sense of shame—which is part of why it took so long to write.
It’s my hope that every kidnapping and abduction ends with the girls making it home to their families.
Read this now.
For better or for worse, I am often spoken of as the first African-American science fiction writer. But I wear that originary label as uneasily as any writer has worn the label of science fiction itself. Among the ranks of what is often referred to as proto-science fiction, there are a number of black writers. M. P. Shiel, whose Purple Cloud and Lord of the Sea are still read, was a Creole with some African ancestry. Black leader Martin Delany (1812–1885—alas, no relation) wrote his single and highly imaginative novel, still to be found on the shelves of Barnes & Noble today, Blake, or The Huts of America (1857), about an imagined successful slave revolt in Cuba and the American South—which is about as close to an sf-style alternate history novel as you can get. Other black writers whose work certainly borders on science fiction include Sutton E. Griggs and his novel Imperio Imperium (1899) in which an African-American secret society conspires to found a separate black state by taking over Texas, and Edward Johnson, who, following Bellamy’s example in Looking Backward (1888), wrote Light Ahead for the Negro (1904), telling of a black man transported into a socialist United States in the far future.