2013 was many things but boring, it was not. It’s hard to believe that so many awesome experiences were jam packed into a 12-month calendar period but apparently, that is the case. Sometimes overachievers are so focused on the end goal, with that tunnel vision that we suffer from, we rarely take a step back to marvel at all we’ve accomplished to date. I believe it was some smart famous dead person that said something about life not being about the destination but the journey…oh yeah, Ralph Waldo Emerson. With that said, one of my objectives for 2014 is to appreciate the moment by taking stock of what’s happening NOW. And the most recent moments bka last year’s highlights, I’d like to share with you. As a journey in collective excellence, I’d encourage you to create your own list and feel free to share with me! I’m always down for bucking somebody up because ultimately, the best way to hype up yourself is to hype up somebody else.
P.S. The “Thanks for the ride lady” is not mine but from Creepshow 2. Don’t know if you ever saw that scene where the white lady driver ran over this Black guy hitch-hiking in the middle of the night in a wooded area. Anyway, that’s his line, not mine. 🙂
- Centennial Anniversary of DST | Washington, DC: As a woman who crossed the burning sands at Alpha Chapter on the campus of Howard University in Spring 2000, I was elated to join thousands upon thousands of my sorors in celebrating the centennial anniversary of our illustrious organization, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
- Black Portraiture[s] Symposium | Paris: I flew from DC to Charles Degualle airport in Paris and participated in Black Portraiture[s]: The Black Body in the West, which was organized under the leadership of Dr. Deborah Willis. I chaired a panel entitled “Show up to Show Out: The Rise of Global Black Dandyism” which was moderated by my dear friend and colleague Dr. Michelle Joan Wilkinson, and featured myself, Allison Janae Hamilton, Dr. Monica Miller and Dr. Michael McMillan.
- HYCIDE ART ISSUE Release Party | New York City: Suffering from a mild case of jet lag, I co-hosted the release of HYCIDE Magazine’s inaugural ART ISSUE that was Guest Edited by myself, thanks to a special invitation by my friend photographer and HYCIDE Editor-in-Chief Akintola Hanif. I had on furs and things and was a little tardy to the party but it was all the way live. The issue featured contemporary artists such as Numa Perrier, Amy Sherald, Suzanne Broughel, Charl Landvreugd, Patricia Kaersenhout, Remy Jungerman and a host of others.
- Kickstarter Campaign | USA: To jumpstart the film production for Black Pete the Documentary, during Black History Month 2012 I launched the Kickstarter campaign for Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary. Although the campaign was a 30-day campaign, within two weeks, I may have broken some kind of Black Kickstarter record and reached my goal of $20,000 way before deadline. Of course none of that would have been possible without the support of over 10,000 people who shared the campaign on facebook and the 536+ individuals who supported financially. Since that time, I’ve been able to go back to the Netherlands twice to shoot additional interviews but still have lots more funding to raise and a lot more work to do before the film is complete but we’re well on our way thanks to the success of this campaign and you!
- Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellowship Dutch Caribbean Excursion | Aruba, Curacao, Suriname: In 2012, I was awarded with a 2012-13 Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellowship to investigate Dutch Caribbean Art for a forthcoming exhibition. With the support of that fellowship, I lived in the Netherlands for four months in Fall 2012. In March and April, accompanied by Don Fela Ford who documented the experience for me, I traveled to Aruba, Curacao and Suriname, meeting with artists, scholars and cultural activists. The highlight of the trip was traveling 2 hours by car and 2 hours by boat up the Suriname River to spend a few days with the Samaaka Maroons who have lived independently since their foremothers and fathers deserted Dutch plantations a few centuries ago.
- Keti Koti | The Netherlands: In June and July, I traveled to The Netherlands to participate in and document the activities around the 150th year commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Dutch territories. The annual liberation celebration is called “Keti Koti” which translates as “Breaking the Chains.”
- In Conversation with Daniele Tamagni | London: During my stay in the Netherlands, I hopped over to Londontown to participate in a conversation with renowned Italian photographer Daniele Tamagni, the artist behind Gentlemen of Bacongo, one of the first mainstream photographic documentations of the Sapeurs of the Congo. The talk was held in conjunction with Daniele’s solo show that was on view at the Kirsten Gallery. During that trip, I was also photographed by Sara Shamsavari for her ongoing portraits of people in London project.
- BlackStar Film Festival | Philadelphia: As an Advisory Board member, I attended the 2nd Annual BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia, which was founded by Maori Karmael Holmes. In addition to having the opportunity to meet some incredible filmmakers, see amazing films such as Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George, I also conducted a post-screening Q&A of Ethiopian Sosena Solomon’s Merkato. Lastly, one of the biggest highlights was hanging out with the brilliant renowned filmmaker Haile Gerima and meeting Spike Lee (for the second time).
- Caribbean Linked II| Aruba: In late August, I was invited to join the organizers of Caribbean Linked II (organized by Ateliers ’89, ARC Magazine and Barbados Fresh Milk) to come on down to Aruba as an external curatorial examiner. CLII was a two-week gathering of 10 of the most talented contemporary Caribbean artists under age 30.
- Pretty Period | Philadelphia: Dr. Yaba Blay (author of One Drop: Shifting the Lens On Race), had me photographed by Anne Marie Blake for her next project “Pretty Period.” It was the photo shoot of a lifetime, to say the least.
- Reel Sisters Film Festival | Brooklyn: On October 12, I participated in the panel “Defining Myself for Myself: Women of Color Make Documentary Films” at the 16th Reel Sisters Film Festival. My co-panelists included Dr. Marta Moreno Vega and Christine Turner and was moderated by Leslie Fields-Cruz of the National Black Programming Consortium.
- Ebony Magazine | USA: After Rosella Molinu posted a picture of a ridiculous Halloween display in the American Apparel on Houston in Manhattan of a makeshift Vodou altar, I wrote a piece that was published on Ebony.com about the bastardization of African sacred spirituality.
- Congress of Black Writers and Artists | Montreal: In 1968, McGill University hosted the Congress of Negro Writers and Artists. To commemorate the 45th Anniversary of this historic meeting of Pan-African minds, McGill hosted another Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Montreal Canada October 18 – 20. I was invited to present my paper “Beyond Post-Blackness: Reconstructing a Radical Discourse on a Criteria for [Black] Art.” My co-panelists were amazing and the entire conference was incredible! I’m still basking in the highlights of that weekend.
- Zwarte Piet Documentary Pre-Production | Amsterdam: With the support of so many amazing people who contributed to my initial fundraising efforts, I was able to spend a month in Amsterdam from mid-November to mid-December, bearing witness to and documenting the historical events that transpired during last year’s celebration of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. With that additional footage, I hope to raise the necessary funding that I need to shoot, produce and edit the film in its entirety for an anticipated completion date of 2015.
- NLS in Conversation | Amsterdam/Kingston: While in Amsterdam, I participated in a transnational conversation with Jamaican writer/curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson, hosted by Dr. Deborah Anzinger of NLS, Kingston. The topic was my African-centered curatorial practices.