Growing up, the homelands of my parents were places of fantasy. My father spoke of an island where Black people ruled, filled with philosophy and proud history. My mother never stopped talking about my family of musicians, goldsmiths and farmers all living on “family land” that my grandmother owned. Everyone in my house had memories of these lands, even my brothers. All I had were stories.
When I visited my parents’ homelands, I realized that while my family did live and own and thrive, the islands were more than I imagined. It was clear that someone like me would never be mentioned in any proud history. Amongst the family lands of my mother’s stories was an island filled with social complexities, class hierarchies and proud people. Some possessing only memories of owning nothing; people around them reading their clothing yet never hearing what they say. Many living with the reality that if they died today, their fate would be considered tragic but inevitable.
More like these people and less like the family of my mother’s stories, growing up in America, I only have memories of a land where my family owns nothing. While I have often experienced my clothing speaking for me, in the states nothing is more prominent in peoples mind than my skin. It precedes me into the room and punctuates my every sentence, constantly reminding me that if I die today, many would be less shocked than if I had the audacity to live. As a queer Black person, my life is doubly subject to unprovoked injury. Still, I find myself in the relative comforts of American art/academia. Art/academia makes space for my subjective queerness while consuming my blackness and rendering it wholly objective. In contrast, the islands, more precisely my family, make space for all the nuances of my blackness and complex interlocked lineages. Yet to my dismay, neither has room for both.
I love my mother too much to tell her who I am. I can never find a good way to speak about my father. I have trouble calling any place home. I do not deserve to die. I will never let anything but my words and my actions speak for my humanity. I hope to heal myself and those with kindred experiences. I will work to establish the physical spaces necessary to hold the reality of our traumas while rejecting the fragility of our oppressors (historical & contemporary). And when no pre-existing space is suitable for such tasks, I will foster queer creative spaces, in the lineage of those that taught me how to heal myself.
Sarah Doyle Women's Center Gallery, Providence, March 22 to March 31 - 2018
Are You Being Followed?
Center for Reconciliation, Providence, May 8 - June 5 - 2018
Criteria of Beauty
Chace Center RISD Museum, Providence, October 25 - November 25 - 2018
University of Texas, Austin, April 6 - April 9 - 2016
Distillery Gallery, Boston, April 27 - 2017
Temple University, Philadelphia, April 4 - April 7 - 2018
Sweeter the Juice
RISD Benson Hall, Providence, March 15 - March 19 - 2018
Wish You Were Here
The Institute Library Gallery, New Haven, June 4 - August 30 - 2018
University of Texas, Houston, April 10 - April 13 - 2019
Dorothy Meller Scholarship - 2018
John A. Chironna Memorial Scholarship - 2018
J. Stahl-Webber Scholarship - 2017-2019
RISD Scholarship - 2015-2019