Afro-German filmmaker Oliver Hardt teamed up with intellectual/author Darius James (who is beyond description), to tell a tale of Darius’ personal journey through the crossroads and hoodoo underground of America. Despite the name and people’s perceptions, the film is a intimate portrait of a man who is seeking answers about life, death, heaven and hell and the influence of one of Africa’s sacred traditions on this place we call the United States of America. They filmed during the installation of the ‘Papa Legba: Vodou at the Crossroads’ exhibition that was curated by myself and my girl Shanté Cozier. Despite some of my personal feelings about some editorial decisions, the film is gorgeous and interesting and should definitely be seen.
Award winning filmmaker Byron Hurt (and one of my illustrious frat brothers, member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated) has directed and produced a powerful film about African Americans and our relationship to Soul Food, unhealthy eating habits and health issues. I was one of many voices included in the film. I had the opportunity to be interviewed during my tenure at the McKenna Museum in New Orleans and spoke briefly about the African culinary traditions present in Louisiana’s version of Soul Food.
Dr. Deborah Willis, the preeminent scholar and foremost authority of Black photography in the world (and also a critical influence on my decision to become a curator, invited me to organize a panel for Black Portraiture[s]: The Black Body in the West. Black Negroatti from various corners of the Diaspora. Those few days in Paree were exhilarating to say the least. I was amongst not only my professional contemporaries but literally rubbing elbows with my academic role models. Every day was packed with engaging intellectual debate and aesthetic goodness. Our panel was pretty cool (other people have given it praise) and the nights and Paris were filled with endless memories and inside jokes.
Show Up to Show Out: The Rise of Global Black Dandyism
Panel Chair: Shantrelle P. Lewis
Moderator: Dr. Michelle Joan Wilkinson
Panelists: Allison Janae Hamilton, Dr. Monica Miller, Dr. Michael McMillan
My comrade in art/arms, Akintola Hanif, invited me to guest edit the first special issue of HYCIDE Magazine’s THE ART ISSUE. The process was new, exciting and fun. I selected dozens of artists to be featured in this cutting edge publication, covered topics ranging from femme fatale Numa Perrier to white artists fighting against white privilege and supremacy through their work. The release party that went down at Rush Art Gallery in Chelsea was off the chain to say the least.
On November 9, 2012, I was one of the international guest speakers at the Annual Black Magic Woman Festival in Amsterdam. The Festival takes place every year in the Bijlmer, Amsterdam’s Southeast neighborhood that’s home to many of its Surinamese and Dutch Antillian citizens. Myself and fellow American speaker Sheetal Gandhi, were asked to give a MindMep which apparently translates as a Mind “Slap.” I think we accomplished that pretty well based on the audience’s response to discussions about race, feminism, individuality and cultural heritage.
My brother, artist, scholar and master of crunk, Fahamu Pecou took his entourage to Stockholm as in Sweden as in Scandinavia. ‘The 15 Project’ was one of the exciting elements of the inaugural Creative Call: Stolkholm D ATL, an artist exchange which was the creative brain child of Swede Jo Tysk. Needless to say, we had Swedes throwing up the Black Power fist at the Modern Musee – I know, that’s kind of dope. All in all it was a great experience, the fellow guests were phenomenal, the audience was great. Can’t wait to do it again.
Conversations on the presence of blackface in Swedish children’s fiction: “Little Pink & The Motley Crew”
While I in The Netherlands in Fall 2012, my dear friend and brother, artist/scholar Fahamu Pecou invited me to participate in his “The Project 15″ a performance art piece turned live-talk show. Afterwards, I joined Dr. Ylva Habel in conversation about Swedish racial imagery and stereotyping particularly in the form of the children’s character Little Pink and the Motley Crew.
Caribbean Cultural Center, New York, NY
In preparation for the fall 2015 exhibition Negotiating Identity: The Space Between Assimilation and Resistance in Contemporary Dutch Caribbean Diasporan Art, curator Shantrelle Lewis will investigate the ways in which geography, language, cosmology, slavery, colonialism, independence and migration have shaped the identities (and the art practices) of artists in the Dutch Caribbean Diaspora, which encompasses Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Suriname and the Netherlands (including Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius). Perhaps due to a combination of language barriers and physical remoteness, there has been very little contemporary art scholarship that connects activity in the Dutch Caribbean to larger conversations about the African diaspora in the Western Hemisphere. Lewis will travel to the Netherlands for an extended stay during which she will make studio visits, identify artists for the exhibition and meet with art historians and scholars to identify essayists and topics for the exhibition’s catalogue. The curator will travel to the Dutch Caribbean islands and Suriname to meet local artists, curators and scholars and to visit institutions such as Ready Tex Gallery (Suriname) and Institute Buena Bista (Curaçao). Lewis will document her meetings with videotaped interviews that will later be edited into a mini-documentary.
Award Amount: $30,200
Shannon Washington, Co-Founder of Parlour Magazine initiated a fly project to address contemporary attitudes by and about women of color. I had the opportunity to share my voice in this fun and progressive project! Check out the ‘I’m Feminist Enough…’Project Here.