Sit down for a moment would you. Imagine a little girl whom never understood what the big deal was in becoming a woman. She didn’t have the same admiration for growth. To be Grown! She could not wrap her mind around the thought ‘I can’t wait til I move out’ like the rest of her peers. Where was she going?
She grew up with her mother and sisters in the city of Newark, New Jersey. The city of survival; watching her mother carry the burden of motherhood, loss of those closest to her, and dreams of her daughters making a name for themselves.
SHE IS ME…
However, I had the lightest clue of what womanhood was outside of the bubble created to protect me. I didn’t realize I needed protection. My mother knew better!
Womanhood felt like a task from where I stood. As a young woman, I associated it with motherhood or life outside your mama’s house.
I had so many questions. Like what if the little girl (me) hadn’t experienced all of life’s lessons to master the journey that is womanhood.
I knew mothers, not motherhood. I knew sisters, not sisterhood.I knew ‘grown’, not growth.
And Black womanhood. It was the unspoken journey. Our Blackness, you ignored. But I couldn’t!
I found myself along the path of womanhood stumbling a bit. Uncertain with each step taken. Like was I going backwards or forwards in this journey.
When did I first identify myself as a Black woman?
I can recall sitting in an African American studies course at Temple University my senior year of college. Before me stood this beautiful Black woman with a booming voice and big hoop earrings! She had this colorful wrap on her head and red lipstick.
She spoke proudly of Black Women.
She spoke freely about Black Women.
She spoke to me as a Black Woman!
For years, I longed for that feeling of freedom! I felt shackled by the distorted definitions of a Black woman. Was she to keep her head down? Or only raise it when spoken to? Is trauma the only shared experience for Black women?
I’ve stood in the middle of life as a woman. A Black Woman in this world. A Black woman not always certain of her role in the Black culture.
When face to face with the beauty of a Black woman…I SEE HER. I SEE ME. I SEE US.
I see the shape of her eyes, the fullness of her lips, the curls atop her head.
I see the untold stories of a Black woman.
The Birth of the Essence
Langston Hughes, African American poet and novelist of the Harlem Renaissance, once wrote:
Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/ Life is a broken-winged bird/ That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams/For when dreams go/ Life is a barren field/ Frozen with snow.
I, Black Woman, am the broken-winged bird on this journey.
My goal is to celebrate the unraveling of the stereotypes and myths that have held the Black woman in shackles. I want to set her free through Black Art.
“To Spread our wings in reverence of the beauty, the love, the joy in the stories of the Black woman. Our collective story. “
The Essence of a Black Woman Winter Exhibition Debutted Dec 3rd at The Motor House of Baltimore, an arts hub in the Baltimore arts district.
This exhibition’ theme came to me in a dream. I woke up with my pen in one hand and scratching my head like “Now what sis?”
With this dream came the responsibility.
You know the saying - Once you know better, you do better. Well that’s the responsibility. For BlkArthouse, to use the art of storytelling and the historians of Black culture, Black artists, and tell the stories of Black women.
If we don’t tell our story, who will?
BlkArthouse founder, Tatiana Rice, saw this is a great opportunity to highlight Black woman in celebration! Both she and I would be able to tell the beautifully broken stories of Black women. And allow for those stories to share a space in the Black art community.
The Essence of a Black Woman. That was it!
As the creative director, I wanted to strip the bias, the uncertainties, the questions of what made up the Essence of a Black Woman.
I rolled up my sleeves and began crafting an exhibition proposal that would allow Black artists the freedom to join our essence! The essence.
To come from different walks of life and collectively tell a larger story of Black women’s existence in her own skin. Her Essence.
Spending countless hours reflecting on the mission of the exhibition and the untold stories that took up space on the canvases of our Black art community, particularly Black women.
I began to listen closely to the stories of our Black women in the BlkArthouse community.
A Black Woman
To name the fibers that intertwine the stories of each Black artist chosen to join BlkArthouse as featured artists.
10 Black Artists from across the globe!
Together to celebrate the Black Woman on canvas!
An excerpt from Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman.
Now you understand Just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing, It ought to make you proud. I say, It’s in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, The need for my care. ’Cause I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me. -MAYA ANGELOU
Angelou’s words are for every Black woman sharing this canvas of Black Womanhood together.
We See You.