Tag Archives: Black feminism

M.G. Interviews: Yasmine Lancaster and Ida B. Wells for President Posters


Today is “Columbus Day,” and as you all may be well aware of there is the growing controversy of whether to keep or remove statues of Columbus and other problematic white figures of history. There is also the growing conversation of replacing these statues with statues of civil rights heroes and other notable black figures. Instantly, I was 1 Yasminereminded of my good friend, Yasmine Lancaster, who recently did an afrofuturist-inspired project where she imagined what it would have been like if Ida B. Wells had run for president. Begun as an earlier project where she hung smaller signs around the Bronx, she eventually evolved them into a larger poster-length size.

Recently I did an interview with Yasmine so I could share with you the backstory on the project! Here it is:

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The bottom of the poster reads: Supported by Chicago Conservator and the Republican Women’s Club

1) What was the inspiration behind your Ida B. Wells for President Posters?

The inspiration behind the Ida B. Wells for President poster was the current political climate in the United States, particularly in New York City. It was the election of 2016 and there was this intensity in the air on who would be the next president of United States. We were leaving the Obama era of politics and heading into uncharted territory with either a woman who would be president or Donald Trump. There was a buzz in the air. I had spent the summer doing interactive art projects asking the public to take what they need. I was inspired by another artist who had did something similar but in my case I replaced the take what you needs. Instead of “Joy” and “Happiness,” I replaced them with very “Black Girl Magic” things like “Perfect twist out,” “Melanin Filled Day,” and of course, “Black Girl Magic. “ Folks responded well to the post and most would be gone by the end of the day, so feeling encouraged by the response I decided to expand and I began to imagine what if someone else was running for president. So I put up little signs in Harlem around 125 street saying “Ida B. Wells for President” and it felt subversive because unlike the other take what you need posters, this was a little bit more politically overt and it was exciting! I also posted different “Black Woman for President” — some names controversial. I was asking my community to reimagine a new possibility, a different reality.  And it continues to be exciting!

mary_garrity_-_ida_b-_wells-barnett_-_google_art_project_-_restoration_crop2) What were some of the books and other sources that you researched to help flesh out the project?

I read some biographies about Ida B. Wells and I watched some documentaries that focused on her life. A Passion for Justice was the main documentary I watched along with several others as well. It was necessary to do the research to figure out what year she would have ran for President, who would have endorsed her, etc., etc. That part was fun and fascinating, and in the course of my research I found out some interesting facts about Ida that I was not aware of. For example, in the course of doing the research, I found out that she ran for Illinois State senate. She came in third, which is amazing, and so here I am thinking that I am reimagining some far out future when the truth is actually I wasn’t too far off at all — she did run for public office. It makes you wonder what other hidden histories are not known about Black Women in America.

3) What was the process like for creating the posters?

The process of creating the actual posters was a collaborative effort with Meghan Forbes (of Harlequin Creature) and Romeo Silvero*. Meghan Forbes did the research on finding the proper visual representation for the time period, which was important we wanted it to feel like something that you could have accidentally come across in history that you didn’t know existed. We wanted it to have that feel. The first printing we weren’t able to get the paper to look processed and old but we hope to have future presses have that feel. Cost was a huge part of the process and getting clearance for her visual image so what was done was a drawing was made of her likeness by Romeo Silvero.  Romeo is a pre-teen and so it was amazing to have youth be involved in the process as well. 

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Yasmine with Romeo and his mother

4) Do you plan on doing other black women as part of a series or expanding the project in another way?

I do plan on expanding the series and including other Black Women into the series. I also could see this branching out into merchandise that folks could purchase as well. The women that I am choosing to highlight are heroes and we each have our own personal hero that we will respond to. Black Women are the backbone of this country; its about time that we be seen as such.

5) How do you see your project as afrofuturistic?

I foresee this project as being Afro-Futuristic because we are imagining the past and creating an alternate reality in which these amazing black women were stepping up and tossing their proverbial church hat into the ring to run the United States of America, a country that historically has treated Black Women as a community that can be ignored and disregarded, as unfit to be leaders because of their race and their gender. However, in this alternate reality, they make the choice that their vision is exactly what America needs. That leadership is both black and woman and perfectly aligned to make this country step into the future.

6) Since this is Futuristically Ancient, how are you and your work both futuristic and ancient?

Well the future aspect I already discussed because I am reimagining an alternate reality in which these women ran for President of the United States. How my work is ancient is that the idea of a woman as a leader is something that was quite common in the ancient world. Black Women were leaders of nations during antiquity, and so I am paying homage to that, but also reimagining a different America in which this happened. What would this future look like? Feel like? How would it be like our current reality and how would it be different?

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7) Where can the readers find out more about your work?

Readers can find my work on line on Instagram @youwannatellher. They can follow me on that page — that particular page is a visual expression of a collection of poems that I wrote that all begin with the title “You wanna Tell Her.” In addition, the Ida B. Wells posters are being sold at Sister Uptwon Bookstore, which is located at 1942 Amsterdam Avenue. It is a black woman-owned bookstore in the middle of Washington Heights. It was the perfect home for the posters.

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Thank you Yasmine! And please do head to Sisters Uptown Bookstore to get one of your own Ida B. Wells for President posters!

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“Space:Queens” : Margaret Rose Vendryes


 

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Source: Margaretrosevendryes.com

Welcome back to my Space:Queens blog series!

For the past month, I’ve been participating on the advisory council committee and as a creative writing workshop facilitator for the upcoming No Longer Empty exhibition, Jameco Exchange, that is opening on May 21st at 89-62B 165th St. No Longer empty is an organization that works with local artists and community members in various neighborhoods throughout NYC to revitalize empty storefront spaces and other underutilized properties.

One of the exhibiting artists and performers will be Margaret Rose Vendryes, a local York College art professor and artist behind the African Divas Project, which combines traditional African mask ritual with iconic Black woman music divas. Her work comments on the intersections between traditional masquerade, spectacle, celebrity, iconography, beauty ideals, gender and racial performance, and spiritual ritual.

 

1) Tell the readers a little about yourself.

I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and (with the exception of my first 5 years and two years of high school), and raised in Queens as the third of six daughters and one son.

I completed a BA at Amherst College in Western Massachusetts, an MA at Tulane University in New Orleans and a second MA and PhD at Princeton University in New Jersey. With only four studio art courses at Amherst College, the majority of my higher education was in art history concentrating on American art.

I continued to paint when I could, usually during the summer months. Finally, I began my full-time teaching career in 1997, and continue to teach both art history and now, studio courses, at York College, CUNY.

2) What first inspired you to start the African Diva Project?

In 2007, I left NYC, and teaching, for Boston where I had the opportunity to focus on painting.  It was a huge risk that I was compelled to take.  That summer, I spent a month in Mali, West Africa.  I returned so thoroughly inspired, not so much by the art made there, which is awesome, but by the way artists appeared fulfilled by making their art. They were whole in a way that I wanted to be.

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Baule Donna

Although understood in retrospect, my African Diva Project began in 2005 with a painting of Donna Summer from the back of her Four Seasons of Love LP.  I painted her wearing a Baule mask (Côte d’Ivoire) from my African art collection.  That painting, which I thought would be just one experiment and am still changing as the mood inspires me, helped me realize that I had a “project” when I returned home to face it waiting for me on my easel. I finally saw myself as a driven visual artist as much as an art historian with a purpose.  I invented a hybrid professional category for myself, I am an “Artist Historian.”

Continue reading “Space:Queens” : Margaret Rose Vendryes

Modern Griots Reviews: Nichol Bradford’s The Sisterhood


“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds…” – Marcus Garvey/Bob Marley

71maqobuaklEveryone wants to be free, but most people don’t know how to be free. Either we are physically enslaved and imprisoned, or we are mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and financially in bondage. The latter are mostly invisible chains; it is harder to be conscious of their existence and how to escape them. It is hard to be conscious of the ways in which we who have been oppressed internalize and repeat the oppression that has been placed upon us.

Inspired by the women she met in her life, like her late mother and other women leaders she met in the AKA, African-American MBA Association and business school, Nichol Bradford set out to write a mission-driven story that explores those very ideas. Through the genre of political action thriller, Bradford sets a world where black women are the main leaders and heroes, and are taking back their freedom. After a decade of writing and then publishing the book, The Sisterhood has inspired many women with the tools they need to go after their true purpose in life.

Instead of creating simply a self-help or motivational book, Bradford instead wrote a riveting novel of what can be called “applied fiction.” Because sometimes the best way to teach is through a story and Bradford shows it!

Continue reading Modern Griots Reviews: Nichol Bradford’s The Sisterhood

Moving on the Wires: News, Posts, New Music


*Get Futuristically Ancient t-shirts for $20 on teespring.

*Subtletea’s “David Herrle reviews NEAR KIN: A COLLECTION OF WORDS AND ART INSPIRED BY OCTAVIA ESTELLE BUTLER:” David Herrie writes an analysis of Butler’s work and her influence on the anthology, Near Kin. By the way, he include me and my poem in the review. Cool!

*Check out this new comic from Opportunity Agenda, Helvetika Bold, about a social justice superhero who fights the status quo with her words and media savvy.

From Afropunk: “Working with artist-activist Dragonfly, we have been able to bring Helvetika to life as a living, breathing maven of moxie…Not only does she fictionally save the world, she leads with values and effective social justice communications messaging that actually demands action and change. The more support that Helvetika can gain, the more likely that her story can continue sooner rather than later, and the more damage she can do to The Status Quo!”

*Afrofuturism 849 is “a Chicago-based organization dedicated to creating artistic and educational events and programs that support the Afrofuturist global community,” featuring Floyd Webb and Ytasha Womack. “We encourage the visioning of a peaceful today and tomorrow that engages the best of diverse perspectives from the ancient to the future.

We celebrate the intersection between black cultures, indigenous cultures, technology, the imagination, liberation and mysticism as we champion innovation around the world. The number 8.49 is the apparent magnitude of Sirius B, a star celebrated by the Dogon. This star inspires people around the world and we recognize it as one of many symbols of innovation, uncovered pasts and created futures.” They are currently accepting submission for a February Black History Month film program. Email them at info@afrofuturism49.com.

Continue reading Moving on the Wires: News, Posts, New Music

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe


Hey everyone! I am back after taking a short needed break. Last week marked the third year that I have been running this blog! Yay! Happy Anniversary!

Today I return to highlight a few writers I found out about after reading Bilphena Yahwon’s post on Africa Is Done Suffering, “The Writers I Never Learned About.” In this post, Yahwon writes about mainstream literary establishments and education systems lack of inclusion of black women writers in their canons. Her pieces is an addition to a growing critique of these institutions, like Junot Diaz’s “MFA vs. POC” and “We Need Diverse Books Campaign.”  Besides listing writers I already knew, she did include ones I did not know as well and wanted to show their work here. The two women and their books I want to feature are Nigerian writers and activists Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe.

Dr. Acholonu, who passed away in March, was a essayist, playwright, poet and published several books of her own anthropological and scientific research into African cultures, specifically Igbo, and gender studies. Some of her books include “The Gram Code of African Adam: Stone Books and Cave Libraries, Reconstructing 450,000 Years of Africa’s Lost Civilizations, which earned her the award of Professor of African History and Philosophy from Pilgrim’s University and Theological Seminary, North Carolina; The Earth Unchained – A Quantum Leap in Consciousness, A Reply to Al Gore; Motherism – The Afrocentric Alternative to Feminism and The Igbo Roots of Olaudah Equiano”

The Gram Code of African Adam is the first book in her African Adam series and explores the history behind the ancient stone inscriptions of Ikom, Cross River State, Nigeria and contributions of ancient Africans to the world in that they possessed systems of writing. The sequel to the book, They Lived Before Adam, delved into prehistoric origins of the Igbo and that “Igbo oral tradition is consistent with scientific research into the origins of humanity.” She said in a lecture at a Harlem book fair, “Igbo oral traditions confirm the findings of geneticists, that by 208000BC – 208000 BC – human evolution was interrupted and Adam, a hybrid, was created through the process of genetic engineering. However, our findings reveal that the creation of Adam was a downward climb on the evolutionary ladder, because he lost his divine essence, he became divided, no longer whole, or wholesome. All over Africa and in ancient Egyptian reports, oral and written traditions maintain that homo erectus people were heavenly beings, and possessed mystical powers such as telepathy, levitation, bi-location, that their words could move rocks and mountains and change the course of rivers. Adam lost all that when his right brain was shut down by those who made him.”

Her last book and last book of the series, “The Lost Testament of the Ancestors of Adam: Unearthing Heliopolis/Igbo Ukwu – The Celestial City of the Gods of Egypt and India,” theorizes West Africa as a place of origin for other Eastern cultures, like Egyptian culture and hieroglyphs.

Continue reading Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe