Atlanta art

17 - Shanequa Gay—Breaking through the American Façade by Vivian Liddell

Shanequa Gay on starting her new body of work:

There was something Dr. Napoleon Wells—he is a professor/psychologist over at Columbia College in South Carolina—there was something he said. He was like in charge of facilitating my artist talk when I was in South Carolina and he said, “African-American women, black women, are the best to tell the American story.” Why? Because we are the ones who are the furthest on these fringes, on these edges. And so, It made me begin to think about… his why. We’re observers, you know, the ones who are … kind of at the edges and including our children. Right? And so, you very rarely hear our stories. You very rarely hear our information. And yet we’re the ones in spaces of service. … His understanding or his sharing of that— I was like, I’m African-American. So why am I a best story teller and why am I a good story teller? And what makes my narrative important? And why is my narrative just as American as a white male?

Our society tells us that it’s not. I’m hyphenated. I’m hyphenated in how I move here, in my space. And so, if mine is just as American with or without the African-American— what does that look like and what does that mean? Which is why I’m seeking out spirituality, because I don’t always know where my work comes from. I don’t always know where these ideas are coming from. But I do like to move on them.

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