Black Joy Is: Ferocious, Fearless, Forever, For Me, Female
What is Black joy?
Obviously, such a broad, overarching question possesses more than one answer or interpretation. In fact, when asked to curate an exhibition illustrating Black women’s concepts of Black joy, a few familiar Charlottesville artists came to mind.
However as I researched additional visual artists to invite, the variety in their collective subject matter and media offered a deliciously multifold answer to the aforementioned question. And then, the title for the exhibition became evident:
BLACK JOY IS:
From an unapologetic visualization of emotions expressed in a multipaneled self-portrait to the lone female figure balancing a “precarious and expansive landscape” upon her shoulders, both Bolanle Adeboye and Zoë Charlton represent a FEROCIOUS, intense Black female agency. FEARLESS is manifested through Veronica Jackson’s text-based, site-specific work that boldly proclaims and advises that despite a cultural landscape promoting raced-based hate, Black joy is achieved through “self-acceptance,” “self-love,” “Black love,” and most importantly, to “love Black women.” We experience FOREVER in Tori Cherry’s charcoal drawing of her deceased grandmother’s plants passed down and now cared for in a “place of remembrance” in the artist's mother’s home; and in Benita Mayo’s serene photograph reminding her of the distant shoreline and embarkation point of her ancestors' forced Middle Passage journey across the Atlantic. While all nine participating artists represent FEMALE, mixed media artists IBe’ Crawley and Tobiah Mundt further embody the term through their use of materials historically situated in the intimate world of women’s work—collage, found objects, fiber, and tufted yarn. And finally, despite working in different media, Somé Louis and Kori Price illuminate the last proclamation in the list of five words that define Black joy. The repetitive gestures and meditative movements depicted in Louis’s video projection and the intimate and self-contained mobility captured via Price’s camera lens interpret FOR ME through ritual practices that create a sense of peace, calm, and Black joy.
Welcome to BLACK JOY and ONWARD!
Exhibition Curator and Visual Artist, January 2023
To read a local article about the exhibit from Vinegar Hill Magazine, click or tap here.