Featured in the We Out Here exhibition at Denison Art Space in Newark (Denison University) with artists Corrine Jasmin, Cameron Granger, Alisha Wormsley, Luis Vasquez LaRoche, James Maurell, Jessica Moss, Sharon Norwood, and Tariku Shiferaw.

"Curated by clmn and Tara Fay Coleman, We Out Here is an exhibition about the celebration of Black culture, history, and the dynamics of 21st-century Black identity. It is about representation, visibility on one’s own terms, and the agency to do so — the underlying sentiment in the phrase, “We Out Here.”

Courtesy of Studio Arts and Black Studies programs at Denison University.

Shrine for the Living (2020)

We often forget to cherish and uplift the lives of those who stand directly in front of us, touch our hearts, fill us with warmth, share space, and offer love. Those who are living.

It’s common when individuals pass away in the Black community to have celebration of life ceremonies rather than a traditional funeral service. Even when traditional funerals are held, not all the expenses can be paid with ease thus causing families more grief.

These types of services tend to be on the more joyful, party-esque, and uplifting side of remembrance, processing, and storytelling. In my culture street memorials and altars are found scattered throughout neighborhoods, on sidewalk corners, and telephone poles after a passing.They grow like living organisms themselves as days move forward with candles, notes, flowers, teddy bears, framed portraits, and other tokens to symbolize appreciation, love, unity, and impact.

These makeshift memorials note the fact that someone was seen and that they’re deeply missed. They also highlight community and the hands of willing volunteers. No one is instructed to make these shrines, they just appear. Globally and collectively we fail, in some cases, to properly highlight, uplift, and show others appreciation while they’re here and while we’re able. We often see how much someone was loved and their impact once they are gone. I began creating a continuing body of work in order to cleanse floating around transforming rage and grief and celebrating lives while they breathe here on Earth; offering tokens before absence. Letting others know they are seen. The work is a note to honor Black lives and queer lives today and forward, not only when they are viciously or suddenly ripped away from us.

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