Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter is an organisation that unites black feminist women against problems connected with such things as racial discrimination and its institutionalisation. This collective is formed in solidarity with an international activist movement Black Lives Matter that campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people. Even if BWA for BLM is a women’s project, these brave girls fight for the right of all Black bodies no matter the gender. Many people heard of the terrifying Sandra Bland case. She’s the only one of many other victims being late by cause of unjustifiable cruelty on the fact of race. Thus, the Black Women Artist manifesto always and forever ends with an endless list of black women victims:

 

BWA for BLM performance. Image: Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich

“We make in the memory of Korryn Gaines, Alexia Christian, Mya Hall, Gabriella Nevarez, <…> Sharmel Edwards, Latanya Haggerty… and countless others.” from BWA for BLM Manifesto

Before solving a problem there should be a discussion. The idea of making up an organisation to connect many different creative and sincere black women is initially great: the more people are united in one common cause the more ways to speak with the world they have. Besides, art is just another type of language, and now it is being told by many brave black women.

 

What are they doing?

Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter is a young (since July 10, 2016) and dashing collective, which has already found a lot of support all over the US and the UK. These women are very productive, full of energy and ready to change our world for the better. They carrying out activities, hold public events, exhibitions, other different kind of art projects and recently engaged the public in a series of performances in support of black women community. Mario Moore, African-American contemporary artist, have been there and told that “there’s something about the presence of black people in this static space”. He also added that it “feels like a family reunion,” and it says a lot about the atmosphere around and inside of BWA.

Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter at the New Museum. Image: Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic

BWA for BLM performance. Image: Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich

Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter participants arriving at the New Museum, Manhattan. Image: Richard Perry/The New York Times

 

On Visibility and Camouflage

To bond with BWA for BLM It could be told about the group’s latest exhibition called THREE.: On Visibility and Camouflage. The exhibition takes place at We Buy Gold, the pop-up art space in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, owned by a black community member Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels and is curated by collective member Daniella Rose King. The works presented at the exhibition are by five artists: Nontsikelelo Mutiti, LaKela Brown, Sam Vernon, Patrice Renee Washington, and Lachell Workman. All of them are driven, talented, ambitious people who care about the future of the black women community and world’s race relations.

THREE. at We Buy Gold, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

King says “I do believe the way we framed the exhibition, in terms of visibility and camouflage, in a lot of ways goes to the heart of how we work as a collective, which are not tendencies alien to black women living in America.”

As it stated, the main two ideas they explore during the exhibition at We Buy Gold are visibility and camouflage, as it relates to the black female experience. In other words, THREE. continues the collective’s mission, proclaimed in their manifesto. They want to grab attention not only to issues faced by black women, but to problems of many other minorities, such as queer or gender nonconforming people, who seek for understanding and public recognition nowadays.

On Visibility and Camouflage, works from Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter

“I am trying to illustrate how it might be possible to suggest that visibility and camouflage are strategies that have implications in terms of how you might structure your identity, disguise it, and move around in the world.” Rose King explains.

To survive systematic racism

Time doesn’t stand still and people learn more about human nature every day, but what does it mean to have a black body in our progressive world? How it feels to express blackness publicly? When and why these people express it covertly, and is it only to survive systematic racism? Do they cover themselves because of inner fear raised by many years of systematic silence? So many questions, but the one is clear that this camouflage is undoubtedly not their own choice. BWA for BLM look for ways to show that black people still forced to hide within even if they live in a society of proclaimed freedom.

The artists in THREE. primarily use symbols and markers of identity to explore its nature and prevent straightening of racism at structural, institutional and direct levels. Though the artworks artists express the whole structure that suppress a human being from within. Nevertheless, BWA for BLM don’t try to call for a pity through showing provocative or bare truth in bound with the questions above. They try to make up a dialogue with people, to level each other to the layer of art, to talk language everyone will understand and explain their intentions.

‘Still Alive’ by Lachell Workman

Then a clearly written message appears: Still Alive.

Have a look and see yourself

Thus, each artist presents an element of camouflage that visitors experience visually and feel it conceptually throughout the exhibition. Have a look: a white room, a white wall, a white t-shirt is mounted. A visitor would miss it if a projector hasn’t been swinging flashes over it. The work called Still Alive, created by Workman. Many words glanced at the surface of the basic t-shirt, at first each statement hard to read. A visitor should take a moment to listen to the call of author, should wait a bit for close consideration. Then a clearly written message appears: ‘Still Alive.’

Yet, It’s just one example of work from a significant collection of visual messages made by BWA members for our souls. To face the fact it should be told that people don’t come up together, when they don’t need it. The great American myth follows black community over the years and tells that one can (no matter the degree of discrimination) pull themselves up only by the strength of will. Let it be, but wouldn’t It work out better if people get together?

THREE.: On Visibility and Camouflage continues through July 31 at We Buy Gold.

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