Collaborating with The Black Woman is God has afforded us just the healing we needed to move forward.
BWIG is a regenerative space curated by Melorra Green and Karen Seneferu, involving artistic works from 60+ Black Women in the Bay Area. The question a league of this size explored is " When Black women create, Are the God"? And from the looks of Somarts on opening night, the answer is unequivocally yes.
Though it seems that we are in a constant state of evolution, there is an apparent flux of hatred and death promoted in the media. The news of Philandro and Alton was a severe blow to Black Lives all over the world. News of Black and Brown lives being taken by police officers seems to be a trending topic in a time where 500+ black people have been murdered by the police in 2016 . The news affects me the same as the news of Sandra Bland's murder, Oscar Grant’s and the millions of Black peoples lives taken by white colonialism; it was heart wrenching and left me cold. Inadvertently as a response to the surge of violence, the opening of BWIG functioned as a heart warming ritual activating all the sweetness of being attached to blackness and its culture.
Witnessing that level of creative production was astounding. The exhibition’s large scale pieces and installations are a refreshing affirmation of Black lives. BWIG’s reception opening was in alignment with the necessity of collective healing, the night left 1,500 people feeling astounded, revived and renewed. Medicine came in the form of dancers, drummers, performers and variety of colorful, self reflective art work. Everyone Eye spoke to in attendance felt a unanimous release of tension and it felt hella good.
From inception to reveal our " Rites of Passage" installation has been an act of ritual. It was a beautiful two weeks gathering materials, putting the pieces together and installing. We thanked nature for providing an abundance of life during our hiking trips geared towards gathering Eucalyptus bark in the Berkeley hills while also discussing intentions and plans. Without the drive of Dani and Sasha, Eye definitely would not be able to perform the opening night. Day's eye couldn't show up, they did and Eye would return to beautiful developments in the installation. My appreciation for their support only amplified after seeing the final results of our work.
During the night of the opening we watched as people gathered in our room and absorbed all the positive intention we sought out. Folks asked us questions of why, how, when and all we could do is humble ourselves to articulate in words what was primarily a feeling. We wanted people to have a palette cleanser, to feel peace and protected. Like, it is ok to take a break. On my way to the stage to perform one viewer came up to us and said they felt like they were in a safe place to rest, like a womb "was that what you meant" they asked. Eye smiled and told them exactly.
Performing was one of the most magical moments of the night for me. Following a powerful cypher with Dom Jones, Ryan Austin just to name a couple folks, my confidence swells just by knowing that Eye was standing on a stage that I’ve always imagined as a performing artists; in front of a multigenerational group of black women. As eye opened my mouth to begin to rap, my partner in crime Lolo powered me up with beautiful vocals and together we activated a surge of joy in all of us. My last song “ Pisces Problems” , chants “ Eye be loving myself”. It was the perfect way to end a night like this, surrounded by people who look like me and loving every minute of it.
Photography By : Jas Victoria & Ariana Faye Allensworth