With just one week left to view "The Seeds This Soil Holds" at The William Way Center in Philadelphia, I thought it best to do a recap on the success of one of my most heartfelt projects to date.
For those who don't know, "The Seeds This Soil Holds" was my immersive chapbook installation that brought together my poetry alongside images of Black Queer joy and resistance. Read more about the inspiration on my previous post.
The total exhibit included nine 40x26" photographic silkscreen prints, six poems, a hanging silkscreen ink on canvas installation and a multimedia component that included videos and interviews from the John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives.
Once the exhibit was installed and mounted it was time for the opening reception. Even though the event was threatened by the smoke and debris as a result of the Canadian Wildfires, it was still a HUGE success (beautifully captured by Mochi Robinson). We had delicious cocktails and bites provided by the fabulously talented team over at Martha.
Here are some snapshots from the night:
The history of Black queer art in America is a rich and multifaceted journey that has evolved over time, reflecting the intersections of race, sexuality, identity, and culture. While a condensed overview cannot capture every nuance and individual contribution, here are some key milestones and artists that have shaped the landscape: Early 20th Century: Harlem Renaissance (1920s-1930s) During this vibrant period of African American cultural flourishing, artists like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Gladys Bentley incorporated themes of queerness into their music and performances. The famous Renaissance writer Langston Hughes also explored themes of same-sex desire in some of his works. Mid-20th Century: Civil Rights Movement (1950s-1960s) As the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum, early Black LGBTQ+ artists often faced a double stigma and struggled to find their place within both the Black and LGBTQ+ communities. Some artists began exploring these themes more overtly in their work, often focusing on personal expression and resistance.1970s-1980s: Emergence of LGBTQ+ Artistic Spaces The rise of LGBTQ+ rights activism and the establishment of dedicated spaces such as queer clubs and bars gave Black queer artists more opportunities to express themselves openly. The Black gay club scene, for instance, fostered creativity and became a hub for performances and visual art exhibitions.1980s-1990s: The AIDS Crisis and Activism The devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic hit both the Black and LGBTQ+ communities disproportionately. Artists like Marlon Riggs and Essex Hemphill used their work to address the intersection of race, sexuality, and health crises, highlighting the urgent need for awareness, advocacy, and compassion.Late 20th Century: Mainstream RecognitionBlack queer artists like Essex Hemphill, Audre Lorde, and Cheryl Clarke gained wider recognition for their literary contributions, often addressing identity, love, and activism. Visual artists like Lyle Ashton Harris and Glenn Ligon also began incorporating queer and racial themes into their work.21st Century: Intersectional Exploration In the 21st century, Black queer artists have continued to expand their creative horizons, often embracing intersectionality and engaging with various media. Musicians like Janelle Monáe and Frank Ocean have brought their authentic selves to their music, while visual artists like Mickalene Thomas and Zanele Muholi have created powerful works that challenge norms and celebrate diverse identities Online Spaces and Activism The digital age has provided new platforms for Black queer artists to share their work and connect with audiences. Social media, blogs, and online communities have allowed for greater visibility and collaboration, enabling artists to engage with a global audience and express their perspectives on identity, politics, and society.This condensed history only scratches the surface of the contributions and complexities within Black queer art in America. The movement continues to evolve, with artists addressing contemporary issues, challenging stereotypes, and celebrating the beauty and resilience of Black queer identities.