I’m excited to let you know that I’ve curated an exhibit called We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains, which showcases the art of former Black Panther Party Minister of Culture Emory Douglas.
Hope to see you there!
Art@UJC proudly presents “We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains,” a new exhibit commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Black Panther Party. This show of Emory Douglas’ work, featuring art from the collection of Alden and Mary Kimbrough, will mark the culmination of our inaugural year of exhibitions.
Democracy + Distrust
Many thanks to those of you who came to the New York Council for the Humanities event I moderated, Democracy and Distrust on May 3rd at Federal Hall. It was such a pleasure to work with the fantastic panel, which featured:
Christopher Lebron, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at Yale University
Michael Lynch, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut and Director of the Humanities Institute
Deva Woodly, Assistant Professor of Politics at The New School
In the words of the Council, “Race and opportunity are contested territory in our current political climate. How did we get here? Can we begin to mend relations in the face of systemic inequalities? How can dialogue catalyze change? This program aims to address how we can restore trust in one another and in our political system, build safer and stronger communities, and move beyond entrenched opinions through intentional acts of conversation."
Yesterday I was honored to co-facilitate a discussion about art, culture and identity at The Gathering-- a group of brilliant and talented dancers, choreographers and scholars who come together annually during APAP. In the words of the organizer Camille A. Brown, this convening "serve[s] as an open forum for intergenerational black female artists to support one another and to advocate for greater cultural equity and acknowledgement in the contemporary dance world." If you weren't there in person, check out the link below to join me and Paloma McGregor at work via livestream...
Happy new year family!
As we step into 2016, I am feeling excited about what's to come and deeply thankful for what's been. 2015 was a year packed with global travel, exhibition opportunities, community engagement programs & media mentions. Several highlights are shared in this newsletter. As always, thank you for your interest in and support of my work!
With eyes to the future,
Art + Creative Change
One of the biggest highlights of 2015 happened as the year came to a close--the Smithsonian Channel interviewed me about my artistic practice, global travels and community work! See below for a sneak peek behind the scenes of this developing project...
I'm also happy to share that I had photography featured in a number of art exhibits last year, including All Rise at Princeton University's Bernstein Gallery and The Time Is Now at the SCOPE Art Show, presented by the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. My piece in the Respond exhibit at the Smack Mellon gallery was mentioned in the New York Times as emblematic of the take-away message of what they described as "a knockout group show" that "produced a soundtrack of shouts, cries, chants and whispers to set against the wall of insulating white noise that enwraps the art world at large."
Socially engaged art and internationalism are at the core of my work, and I had the chance to deliver a speech about that at the Black Portraitures conference in Florence, Italy last summer. Video of our panel, Sister Outsider: Black American Women, Identity and Global Travel, and other featured presentations are posted on blackportraitures.info, which is an incredible resource. I encourage you to press play and check this work out!
After the conference concluded, I went on to spend several weeks touring the country-- studying art and philosophy as a David Driskell fellow with the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. It was an amazing opportunity to further immerse myself in these subjects that I love, and to see them come to life through experiences like visiting museums in Sienna and the Venice Biennale. In addition to Italy, this year saw international travel to the Philippines, Abu Dhabi, Russia, Thailand and Taiwan.
Lastly, Writing On It All--which is an organization that offers artists a platform for building a site-specific creative practice-- invited me to lead a community installation at Governor's Island. I was given an entire house to use as my canvas, to imagine and invite others to imagine with me, what kind of future we could create if Black women and girls were safe from state sponsored violence. Shortly thereafter I went upstate to do a residency at Ryder Farms, which supports innovative practitioners who work at the intersection of art and social change. My colleagues and I spoke about the impact of our respective projects at the Creative Solutions symposium in NYC.
Public Speaking + Public Service
In December, I celebrated International Human Rights Day by curating Open Season 2015, an evening of art + performance + conversation about women and girls in our culture of confinement. The event was held at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, with additional support provided by The Studio Museum in Harlem, the International Center of Photography, the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Angela's Pulse and Dancing While Black. Click here to see gorgeous photos, check out the social media buzz and watch a full length video of the event.
Open Season is one of a number of events I've organized in my capacity as a Managing Director of the Urban Justice Center. Another that bears mention is the 10th annual arts based human rights training that was held in New York City last May. This three day institute engaged a select cohort of social justice advocates from around the country. We discussed cultural strategy, community building and ways to use human rights mechanisms to address inequality in the U.S. Congrats to our latest class, who now join a nationwide cohort of really impressive alumni!
This year I celebrated International Human Rights Day by curating Open Season 2015, an evening of art + performance + conversation about women and girls in our culture of confinement. This thought provoking program, held at the National Black Theatre, featured a rendering of Itagua Meji and performances curated by Dancing While Black. It also provided an...
This month began with back to back speaking engagements about my work. On Friday, October 2nd, I spoke at the 50th anniversary commemoration of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts as part of an exciting discussion about art and social change. It was an honor to join a powerhouse group of change makers as...
Happy Summer Friends, I hope this newsletter finds you well! It’s with excitement that I write to share some of my highlights from the past several months. For more, feel free to check out my website, www.shanijamila.com. Wishing you joy, Shani Installations + International Travel It was such an...
Shani Jamila is an artist, cultural worker and Fulbright scholar with over a decade of leadership in curating and executing public programs that use the arts to catalyze progressive social change. Named “One of the 35 Most Remarkable Women in the World” by Essence Magazine, she regularly writes, lectures and hosts community conversations about art, justice, identity and global engagement. Her travels to nearly fifty countries deeply inform her photography and collage practice.