Women and art

26 - Rachel Reese—Making Connections through Curatorial Practice by Vivian Liddell

Rachel Reese on her first meeting with artist, Suzanne Jackson:

I was giving a lecture at the opening of the Nick Cave exhibition we had at the Jepson Center and in that lecture was talking about sort of the impetus for his soundsuits— which was a response to the Rodney King beatings in Los Angeles— he was in Chicago... And she came up to me after the lecture and introduced herself. “Hello. Hello, I'm Suzanne Jackson” And she was wearing these bracelets that she said "Your lecture reminded me. I wear these bracelets everyday" (and she does) "I got them in Watts just before the riots broke out in 1992.” And so that was our first conversation with one another, and I said I've been trying to get in touch with you! So we sort of both talk about that, like, serendipitous first meeting, but from that I went to her studio and—her house and studio—and was just blown away at the amount of work, the like experimental style of her work that she was making. I entered another world in her house, and it was very clear that she had been like head down making work for 10 years with no visibility.

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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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