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Tomorrow morning Shani will be performing in Times Square with Mendi + Keith Obadike’s Compass Song. Join them at 11am on Broadway Plaza between 45th and 46th streets.

 

“Turn your walk through Times Square into a journey through a song. Artists Mendi + Keith Obadike have stretched fragments of music, poetry, stories, and myths across the pedestrian plazas and surrounding blocks in all four cardinal directions, for visitors to discover whether they’re exploring theneighborhood or simply on their way to work. The result is Compass Song, an app-based public sound artwork inspired by Times Square’s rich history as the Crossroads of the World. 
 
A special kick-off performance exemplifying the Compass Song experience will take place on Wednesday, July 12th on the Broadway Pedestrian Plaza between 45th and 46th Street. Sixteen performers will vocally recreate the city’s sounds as they hear them and then begin singing the freedom song Walk With Me as they divide into four ambulatory groups, each group walking off inone of the cardinal directions. The audience is encouraged to follow whichever group they choose, finding their own individual viewing and listening experience across the landscape of Times Square. Like the app itself, it is an invitation to meditate on the process of finding yourself at a crossroads and choosing your path.”
With Mikel Banks, Monstah Black, Joshua Bowens, Julie Brown, Rashida Bumbray, Nia Drummond, Asma Feyijinmi, Jovian Ford, Paloma McGregor, Nina Angela Mercer, Sharaé Moultrie, Shani Jamila, Sue Rock, Jamara Wakefield, and Akron Watson.

Artist and cultural worker Shani Jamila shares how her family lineage and world travels shape her journey toward justice. Inspiring lessons about the social significance of art and how it can teach us to see emerge from the stories she tells. Shani is a managing director of the Urban Justice Center in New York City, where she curates exhibits and events with a human rights focus.

 

 

 

Shani recently traveled to Havana to attend the opening of the Significations exhibit at the Centro Provincial de Artes Plastics y Diseno. Featured artists include Shani, Deb Willis, Sara Shamsavari and so many more great talents. It’s curated by the brilliant Awam Amkpa. Africa as a place and a font of diaspora has long served as an energizing if contentious context for producing, mediating, and sustaining art and art making. Significations is a dialogic exhibition that frames contemporary imaginations of a capacious Africa as a subject of conversation among artists from all over the Atlantic World. It extends a previous exhibition ReSignifications, that opened in Florence, Italy, in 2015. If you or those you love are in Havana any time before June 5th, please stop by and spread the word!

 


Shani recently had the opportunity to travel to Chile. She visited a coastal city that was one of Pablo Neruda’s hometowns, spent time in the country’s capital Santiago, gazed at the Andes mountains and took a hot air balloon ride over the Atacama Desert– known as the driest place in the world. She also visited the beautiful country of Panama! Click here to check out her travel photography on her Instagram account.
Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter


Shani is a member of the Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter collective, which works in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives. Currently, BWA for BLM is included in a group exhibition,”Vanishing Points” at New York’s James Cohan Gallery, and at Project Row Houses in Houston, TX. If you are in either city, please stop by!

The Porter Colloquium


Lastly, Shani traveled down to DC to attend the Porter Colloquium on African American Art at Howard University. In the dawn of her career, she organized a symposium series about the arts and human rights on Howard’s campus, so it was really wonderful for her to be back “home” for this occasion.

 

APPLICATION OPPPORTUNITIES

Please see below for news about two organizations that are currently accepting applications for upcoming opportunities. Shani is a mentor at New INC and a Resident at TED, and highly recommends both groups. If either of these would be a good fit for you or someone you know, please apply and forward widely!

NEW INC is “the first museum-led cultural incubator dedicated to supporting innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship across art, design and technology. It occupies eight thousand square feet of dedicated office, workshop, social and presentation space. Each year they select an outstanding interdisciplinary community of one hundred members who are investigating new ideas and developing sustainable practices.” Applications are now open, click here to learn how you can become a part of this dynamic organization.

“The TED Residency program is an incubator for breakthrough ideas. It is free and open to all via a semiannual competitive application. Those chosen as residents spend fourteen weeks at the organization’s headquarters in New York City working on their ideas.” If you are interested in applying for the 2017 Fall Residency cohort, click here to learn more.

New York Times Broadcast

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Shani is featured in a New York Times broadcast about how American identity is constructed. The conversation, which was filmed live at the NYT offices, is resonating with tens of thousands of people from around the world– it reached over 190,000 views after just one day!!
 

The NYT describes the series as follows: “What makes someone American? That’s the central theme of “Hyphen-Nation,” which tackles the issue of American identity being tied to the concept of “whiteness” through the lens of 9 people who don’t identify as white.” Join Bayete Ross Smith, Armando Somoza and Shani by adding your comments on race, identity and citizenship to the discussion posted below from the NYT Facebook page.
 


 

Afro Punk Harlem Takeover

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Shani loved hosting a conversation with this magical group of women: musician Tamar-Kali, dancer and choreographer Adia Whitaker, director Ashley Brockington and writer Feminista Jones. The panel was preceded by an incredible performance of Demon Fruit Blues, featuring Ase Dance. Many thanks to the co-sponsors AfroPunk and the Harlem Stage, in addition to all the members of the sold out audience!
 

The Schomburg Center

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In January Shani was pleased to host a spirited discussion of writers and scholars at Harlem’s renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The event featured Brittney Cooper, Susanna Morris and Robin Boylorn taking on popular culture, politics, race and gender as they celebrated the launch of their new book The Crunk Feminist Collection. Click here to watch!
 

The Whitney Museum

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On Inauguration Day, Shani was proud to stand with fellow members of Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter to read their Notes Toward a Manifesto.  They joined a long list of artists who chose to spend the day speaking out about their principles and who they stand for.
 

Brooklyn Arts Exchange

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Lastly, it was a true pleasure for Shani to head over to the Brooklyn Arts Exchange as a contributor to their forum on the five year history of Dancing While Black. It was a great afternoon visioning and strategizing about the arts and social change during Artist Services Day.

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Harvard University’s Cooper Gallery

One of Shani’s favorite 2016 moments happened at Harvard University’s Ethelbert Cooper Gallery.  She was invited to be their inaugural Late Night Thursday’s speaker! Shani screened her short film, Altar: A Moving Meditation, which features music by Alicia Hall Moran and Brett Sroka, and delivered an artist talk as part of the programming for Carrie Mae Weems’ breathtaking exhibit, “I Once Knew A Girl.” She couldn’t have been more thrilled to present her work in this stunning space- helmed by the indomitable Vera Grant and designed by David Adjaye, who also designed the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

 

Emory Douglas Exhibit
Another highlight of the year was curating an exhibit of Emory Douglas’ work, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Black Panther Party. “We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains” featured work from the collection of Alden & Mary Kimbrough, and was mentioned in the New York Times.

 

Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter
It did Shani’s heart well to join with over one hundred Black women artists, in a convening organized by Simone Leigh, to respond to the continued inhumane institutionalized violence against black lives. Their first evening of collectively organized healing workshops, performances, digital works, participatory exchanges, displays and the distribution of materials was held at the New Museum. BWA for BLM focuses on the interdependence of care and action, invisibility and visibility, self defense and self determination, and desire and possibility in order to highlight and disavow pervasive conditions of racism. Stay tuned, they are working on more for this upcoming year.

 

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Public Speaking + Public Service

TED Residency
Shani met the goal of a lifetime when she took the TED stage  in December to deliver a talk about art, justice, freedom and travel. This was the culmination of a three month residency she participated in at the organization’s headquarters.  We can’t wait to share the video with you once it becomes available!

 

Black Portraitures, South Africa
In November Shani traveled to Johannesburg to speak at one of her favorite conferences, a convening of artists, curators, cultural workers and scholars called Black Portraitures. This year also saw international travel to Senegal, Portugal, Germany, France, Greece, Denmark and Mexico.

 

Facilitating Community Conversations
Finally, in 2016 Shani continued her work addressing inequity and catalyzing cultural change. Two stand out moments were moderating the Democracy and Distrust forum for the New York Council for the Humanities, and co-facilitating an annual convening of dancers, choreographers and scholars organized by Camille Brown, called The Gathering.

Shani has been invited to speak at Harvard’s Ethelbert Cooper Gallery! On the evening of December 1st, she will screen a short film she recently made and deliver an artist talk about her career using the arts to transform society.  The film, which features music by Alicia Hall Moran and Brett Sroka, will be shown  in the midst of an exhibit by the brilliant Carrie Mae Weems, I Once Knew A Girl. Click here for more details.

 

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Shani will get to Harvard fresh off of an epic trip to South Africa, where she spoke at the Black Portraitures Conference about how she’s used her art to catalyze conversations about race, gender and criminal justice reform.  This conference gathers artists, curators, cultural workers and scholars from throughout the diaspora for three days of brilliance and beauty.

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As shared in a previous post, Shani was awarded a place in the TED Residency program – an in-house incubator for breakthrough ideas. She’s part of a cohort of amazing thinkers who are spending four months in the TED office, creatively taking on projects that are making significant changes in their communities, across many different fields. The date that they film their TED Talks is rapidly approaching! We look forward to sharing  the end product with you.

 

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Finally, Shani will be in a poetry reading on November 28th at Bluestockings Books in NYC to support the people of Haiti. She’ll be performing with Elana Bell, Kathy Engel, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Candice Iloh, Caits Meissner, Roberto Garcia, Yemeni Montill and youth poets from the Bronx Academy of Letters.

 

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The Emory Douglas exhibit Shani curated, We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains, is mentioned in today’s art section of the  New York Times!  Click here to read the piece, which chronicles the lasting influence of the Black Panther Party– founded fifty years ago today.

 

NYT Oct 2016

 

Next head over to Ebony.com, where the latest edition of The Spin’s important conversation on consent is featured. This week’s contributors are Marc Lamont Hill, Sofia Quintero and Shani Jamila.  To read the article and tune in to the podcast hosted by Esther Armah, click here.

 

Ebony

TED Residency
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Shani was awarded a place in the TED Residency program– an in-house incubator for breakthrough ideas. She is part of a cohort of amazing thinkers who are spending four months in the TED office, creatively taking on projects that are making significant changes in their communities, across many different fields. At the end of the session, she’ll have the opportunity to give a TED Talk about her ideas in the theater of the organization’s headquarters! To learn more, click here to visit her TED page.

 

Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter

shani jamila

Shani is one in a powerful group of over one hundred black women artists who gathered to form a collective force underground, known as Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter (BWA for BLM). Simone Leigh, the current artist in residence at the New Museum, convened this group in response to the continued inhumane institutionalized violence against black lives. BWA for BLM held a public event in solidarity with Black Lives Matter at the New Museum on September 1st.

 

This dynamic evening featured collectively organized healing workshops, performances, digital works, participatory exchanges, displays, and the distribution of materials throughout the New Museum Theater, Lobby, Fifth Floor, and Sky Room. The event was covered by media outlets including Hyperallergic and the New York Times.

 

BWA for BLM focuses on the interdependence of care and action, invisibility and visibility, self-defense and self-determination, and desire and possibility in order to highlight and disavow pervasive conditions of racism. For updates and information on BWA for BLM, please follow the group on Twitter (#BWAforBLM) and Instagram (@BWAforBLM).

 

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Image Credit:
NYA (National Youth Administration) youth assisting in South Parkway Branch, Y.W.C.A. (Young Women’s Christian Association) in Chicago, n.d. Courtesy Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, the New York Public Library).

 

Emory Douglas Exhibit
shani jamila

The Emory Douglas exhibit Shani curated, “We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains,” will be up until October 15th! If you are able to get to the beautiful Battery Park neighborhood in lower Manhattan, please stop by to visit the show, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party.

Exhibit Opening

 

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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.

 

Douglas is a renowned artist and former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, whose design concepts reflect the concerns of the community. His art has been displayed at the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. A retrospective of Douglas’s work was published in Art in America and is the subject of the book Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas.

 

“We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains” is curated by Shani Jamila, artist and UJC Managing Director.

 

The opening reception, held on Thursday, May 19th at 6pm, featured guest speakers Dr. Robyn Spencer, Soffiyah Elijah and Emory Douglas. The exhibition will be up until September 15, 2016.

 

Democracy + Distrust

 

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On May 3rd, Shani moderated Democracy and Distrust– an event at Federal Hall organized by the New York Council for the Humanities. The fantastic panel 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.

 

The Democracy in Dialogue Project was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.”