The latest from my interdisciplinary studio practice.
In familiar africanness, I created a series of works and installations that addressed questions — materials and narratives that continue to inform my work both consciously and subconsciously. As a means of reclaiming my Africanness, I constructed assembled works on brown paper bags and found surfaces, incorporating projections, digital image transfers, spices, and rose petals to reference the connections between the African continent and myself. In this process, I am piecing together fragmented experiences and histories that inform diasporian identity both lost and found and challenge notions of authenticity.
familiar africanness was on view from November 19-December 14, 2018 at the cliff gallery at Mountain View College in Dallas, Texas.
As a part of the exhibition, I organized and facilitated a Kitchen Table Talk with four other African American creatives in North Texas to talk to their experiences of referencing their African heritage within their work. A link to the Kitchen Table Talk can be found here.
So Great in Her Gardens (Malinda Wade)
digital inkjet print, 36" x 48," 2016
So Great in Her Gardens is a tribute to my maternal great-grandmother Malinda Wade Harper, who was born and raised in Texas and was quilter and homemaker. She was a wife and mother of 10 children, where approximately 5 migrated to California during the Second Great Migration. As a creative practice, she made quilts with the help of my grandmother and uncles, shipping most of them to her children who lived out of state. So Great in Her Gardens was created after I inherited one of these quilts from my great-aunt in Sacramento. After the Everyday Use series, I wanted to create a piece that honored the creative practice of my great-grandmother just as I had created similar works like Daisy's Casual Corner and Teacakes and color as tributes to my grandmother. Like with Daisy's Casual Corner, I was interested in juxtapozing a family photograph of my great-grandmother Malinda against one of her own creations. In this way, I wanted to call attention to the creative acts of love she produced to remind her children of home.
Mixed-media on reassembled brown paper bags
Excess Baggage is an ongoing dialogue in my work centered around cultural relationships and histories between brown paper bags and African American culture. This current body of work takes the form of large-scale sculptures and two-dimensional objects that are made using acrylic and found brown paper bags that have been deconstructed and reassembled into new "bags" and images that are symbolic of personal and cultural narratives. When using materiality of the deconstructed brown paper bags, they attempt to speak to not only the history of brown paper bags within African American culture but attempts to mimic a relationship to fabric that is inherently fragile and unstable.
Pieces from the Excess Baggage series have been exhibited at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, TX and Fort Works Art in Fort Worth, TX in 2015.
a series of multimedia, site-specific installations
Everyday Use was a series of site-specific multimedia installations featured at the South Dallas Cultural Center from March 21–April 25, 2015
Exploring everyday objects, experiences, and memories as artistic contributions to African American history and culture, the series uses photographic/digital images and installations, including found family photographs, found papers and objects, sound, and digitally manipulated fibers and tapestries. In the series, I hope to speak to the history of “making” within the African American community. Using my own family images and memories, I created installations that speak to the ways in which everyday objects such as frames, fabric/patterns, and brown paper bags signify alternative, subversive meanings within African American history and culture. I drew inspiration from Alice Walker’s writings “Everyday Use” and “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” to revisit the everyday creative practices of African American women and families as not only an art form but as documentation of the influence of makers within African American history.