On View September 19, 2014 – January 3, 2015
Exhibition Hours at the Schomburg: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
i found god in myself is a multimedia and multigallery exhibition celebrating the 40th anniversary of Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking choreopoem, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.
Since its debut performance in 1974 just outside Berkeley, California, at a bar named the Bacchanal, Shange’s work has captivated, provoked, inspired, and transformed audiences all over the world. Turning to the choreopoem not simply as an engaging work of text or drama but as a well of social, political, and deeply personal issues affecting the lives of women of color, the exhibition features 20 specially commissioned pieces in honor of the individual poems. Artists have each selected a poem and reimagined it as a work of visual art through paint, collage, textile, photography, new media, sound, sculpture, and site-specific installation. Thereby each work gives tangible life-form to the words depicting women’s experiences with love, sexuality, racial identity, domestic violence, rape, abortion, sisterhood, and ultimately self-love. Anchoring the exhibition is archival material that traces the journey of Shange’s text from that bar in California to its critically acclaimed run on Broadway, which included a 1977 Tony Award nomination for Best Play and a 1977 Tony Award win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Trezana Beverley).
The multigallery exhibition extends beyond the walls of the Schomburg to include additional noncommissioned artworks on display at two satellite locations, The Sol Studio and La Maison d’Art. These multimedia works—portraying women at the life stages of youth, adulthood, and late adulthood—reference aforementioned themes while simultaneously broadening the scope of Shange’s text to encompass a contemporary perspective on issues such as class, body image, gender identity, immigration, politics, and war.
The exhibition’s title is drawn from one of the last lines recited in the final poem, “a layin on of hands.”The title suggests that navigating through the complexities of what it means to be of color and female is enlightened only by an understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of self. With self-empowerment comes the process of “movin to the ends of their own rainbows.” By presenting multimedia works from both women and men of multicultural, multiracial, and multigenerational backgrounds, i found god in myself explores the universality inherent in Shange’s powerful message to the world.
Michael Paul Britto
Uday K. Dhar
Laura R. Gadson
Kameelah Janan Rasheed
Margaret Rose Vendryes
*Image Credit: J.A. for WadadaArts.com