Shani has been named a 2019 Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar! The Aspen Scholars are a group of global leaders who are selected for their work, accomplishments, and ability to transform ideas into action.
Presented by the Aspen Institute in partnership with The Atlantic magazine, the Aspen Ideas Festival is the nation’s premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to present and discuss the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times.
From Aspen Lectures to debates to one-on-one interviews and more, days are filled from early morning to late evening. Attendees have exceptional opportunities to interact with public officials, artists, scientists, authors, business executives, scholars, economists, foreign policy specialists, entrepreneurs, and leaders of all kinds — on footpaths and sidewalks, over lunch on the lawn or coffee at the espresso bar, in auditoriums and in small seminar rooms. The intimacy of Festival gatherings renders the experience unique and unforgettable.
Like many of you, I’ve been watching the fight for women’s rights unfold in Alabama, Missouri and Georgia. In response, I’ve decided to offer a selection of fine art prints for sale. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to reproductive justice organizations in the south that are led by women of color. For a limited time, each piece will be marked down. The twelve first edition photographs in this collection are exhibition quality archival HD metal prints. Each piece comes with hanging hardware and a one inch aluminum brace on the back, which gives it a floating effect.
“Since opening in 1999, MASS MoCA has become one of the world’s premier centers for making and showing the best art of our time. With annual attendance of 120,000, it ranks among the most visited institutions in the United States dedicated to new art. More than 80 major new works of art and more than 50 performances have been created through fabrication and rehearsal residencies in North Adams, making MASS MoCA perhaps the most fertile site in the country for new art. The museum thrives on making and presenting work that is fresh, surprising, and challenging.
Hosted by MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program, selected artists receive private studio space on MASS MoCA’s campus, newly renovated housing, free access to the museum’s galleries throughout the residency, optional financial and business coaching from Assets for Artists staff, and a daily group meal.”
Artist Shani Jamila’s collages, paintings and soundscapes explore family, lineage and identity.
The collages utilize her archive of photo essays created over the course of her travels to nearly fifty countries as source material. They interrogate how the idea of home is constructed and the surrealist nature of our political reality. As Jamila encounters people and places through her camera lens, moments of recognition or solidarity emerge which are reorganized and re-purposed through collage, simultaneously revealing and obscuring identity and familiarity.
Her paintings began as a creative mapping of her personal family records. Jamila is in the seventh generation on both sides of her lineage. The content of the work, and its color palette, are drawn from enormous genealogical charts produced by her grandmother.
While the materials vary, there is a constant refrain in Jamila’s work of who she is, where she comes from and how she interacts with the world, whether via the camera, the photograph’s transformation to collage or the meditative repetition of pressing her fingertips to paint and canvas. With Seven, she invites us into an immersive installation to experience how the work is woven together.
“At Ace, we agree with Richard Avedon when he says, “Anything is an art if you do it at the level of an art.” Sculpture, mineral, sound and thought – some people wink and call it art. Each Sunday night our Artists in Residence program invites members of the community to spend one night with us, enjoying a modest tab and access to a cart of supplies. On Monday mornings, we find out what they’ve made.
This February, artist Shani Jamila will spend her Sundays at Ace Hotel. Her travels to nearly fifty countries deeply inform her collage, photography and painting practice. She has exhibited and performed at the Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Harvard University’s Cooper Gallery, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Smack Mellon, SCOPE Art Fair, Brooklyn Museum, Corridor Gallery, City College, New Museum and Princeton. The community conversations she’s hosted at institutions including the Aperture Foundation, Lincoln Center, Schomburg Center and New York Live Arts are known for engaging discussions about the arts and society. This was also the subject of her TED Talk, “Reimagining Resistance Through Art,” which she delivered during a residency at the organization’s headquarters. A Fulbright scholar once named “One of the 35 Most Remarkable Women in the World” by ESSENCE Magazine, her image and quote are featured in “A Choice to Change the World,” a permanent exhibition at her alma mater Spelman College.
An artist yourself, you say? Make your marks at Ace Hotel New York using promo code ARTSCHOOL and recieve 10% off your stay.”
This Saturday (2/2, 6pm), Shani is doing a live artist talk to mark the closing of the iconic Soul of A Nation exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. This is also the beginning of her newest project. Details below!
“Celebrate the launch of artist Shani Jamila’s new podcast Lineage with photographers Ming Smith and Russell Fredrick of the Kamoinge Collective, a group founded during the Black Power movement which is still active today. 330 free tickets in Auditorium line at Admissions at 5 pm.
The full schedule of activities is available on the Brooklyn Museum website. Lines often form one hour before ticket distribution at the Admissions Desk. Members can pick up tickets from Member Services while supplies last.” Would love to see you there!
What a year it’s been! Shani’s artwork was displayed from Italy to Harvard, she lived in Spain for a month and traveled to Africa twice, and community conversations about the work went from public stages to the pages of Aperture Magazine. As we look back to move forward, we’re grateful for the lessons learned in 2018 and looking forward to the work we’ll collectively create in 2019.
Manifesta Biennial- Palermo, Italy
In 2018 Shani debuted eight collages and an accompanying soundscape in her first international Biennial! “Manifesta is the European Nomadic Biennial, held in a different host city every two years. It is a major international art event, attracting visitors from all over the world. Manifesta is the go-to place for discovering emerging artists, thought provoking ideas, new artworks especially commissioned for the event, and creative experiences in dialogue with spectacular locations of each host city.”
The work, which was part of a show that rewrote the narrative of Black portraiture in European art, was accompanied by a talk she delivered in Palermo, Italy about her artistic practice.
New Solo Exhibition
Another highlight of the year was having her photography, collage and film featured in Portals, a solo exhibition curated by Senior Curator of MoCAD and co-founder of ARTNOIR Larry Ossei-Mensah. This exhibition drew on Shani’s years of international travel to nearly 50 countries. It was accompanied by a series of public events, featuring an all star roster of guest speakers and performers including author and NYT photography critic Teju Cole, Queens Museum president Laura Raicovich, Broadway singer Alicia Hall Moran and celebrated Random House One World editor Chris Jackson.
Six of Shani’s collages were included in Harvard’s Cooper Gallery spring exhibition, ReSignifications. The show was originally presented in 2015 at New York University’s Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy as part of “Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories.” She traveled to Cambridge for the opening.
Aperture published an article about Shani’s art and travel with author and photographer Teju Cole, curator Larry Ossei-Mensah, and writer and art worker Laura Raicovich. As the intro states, “what follows is an edited excerpt of this conversation that addresses mobility and its implications, particularly for black bodies in our times, and the meaning of images produced by Cole and Jamila. Both, in their diaristic approach to photography, contend with how constructions of home, borders, and nationality, among other intensely felt notions, are largely figments of imagination that, while powerfully experienced, are equally slippery when parsed. Further, Jamila and Cole both confront subjective and objective visibility of themselves as photographers, seers, and artists.” Click here to read the full article.
She was also so thankful for the opportunity to honor her beloved Uncle John. An award winning playwright and author, he’s devoted his entire life to using his art in support of freedom, justice and the liberation of Black people– as the co-founder of the Free Southern Theater, a field secretary for SNCC and the founder of Junebug Productions. He is currently fighting dementia.Two weeks ago, the family created an opportunity for the community to contribute to his care. It has already raised over $20,000! What a joy to be able to give him his flowers while he’s here to enjoy them. Thanks to every person who has written beautiful notes and donated during this season of giving. You have gotten us over 2/3rds of the way to our goal in just a matter of days. If you’d like to contribute, click here.
This year Shani traveled to Africa twice and visited five countries in three months: Italy, Spain, Malta, Tunisia and Morocco. She got to have wonderful adventures, including skydiving in Spain while living there for a month with Unsettled, studying Dali, and enjoying a bucket list trip to the blue town of Chefchouen. Images she made over the course of her travels are featured on her Instagram account. Follow her there for a peek into her visual diary as she moves throughout the world!
Facilitating Community Conversations
In 2018 Shani continued her work addressing inequity and catalyzing cultural change. Stand out moments were moderating a conversation of dancers, musicians and choreographers with Rashida Bumbray and Dancing While Black at the University of Virginia, & leading a conversation about art and justice at the Aperture Foundation’s Prison Nation opening. Much more to come on this front in the new year!
On Saturday, the brilliant writer and poet Ntozake Shange joined the ancestors. This week on social media I’ve been celebrating the deep impact she had on my life and work with a reading from one of her best known works, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. It’s my honor to share it here with you.
As the intro states, “what follows is an edited excerpt of this conversation that addresses mobility and its implications, particularly for black bodies in our times, and the meaning of images produced by Cole and Jamila. Both, in their diaristic approach to photography, contend with how constructions of home, borders, and nationality, among other intensely felt notions, are largely figments of imagination that, while powerfully experienced, are equally slippery when parsed. Further, Jamila and Cole both confront subjective and objective visibility of themselves as photographers, seers, and artists.”
“Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation, connects the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other-in print, in person, and online.
Created in 1952 by photographers and writers as ‘common ground for the advancement of photography,’ Aperture today is a multi-platform publisher and center for the photo community. From our base in New York, we produce, publish, and present a program of photography projects, locally and internationally.”
“Nia and Letifah are inherently worthy of our empathy. Their loved ones deserve our support,” Jamila said. “This incident deserves our outrage. This perpetrator deserves real consequences. And the images that accompany the way too limited media coverage of this tragedy should reinforce that narrative.
After a truly wonderful springtime sabbatical in Spain and Morocco (check out all the pictures from Shani’s month with Unsettled), Shani will debut several new collages in the Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art in Palermo, Italy! The work will be accompanied by a talk she’ll deliver about her artistic practice and a soundscape she collaborated on with the talented musician Brett Sroka.
“Manifesta is the European Nomadic Biennial, held in a different host city every two years. It is a major international art event, attracting visitors from all over the world. Manifesta is the go-to place for discovering emerging artists, thought-provoking ideas, new artworks especially commissioned for the event, and creative experiences in dialogue with spectacular locations of each host city.
It was founded in Amsterdam in the early 1990s as a European biennial of contemporary art striving to enhance artistic and cultural exchanges after the end of Cold War. In the next decade, Manifesta will focus on evolving from an art exhibition into an interdisciplinary platform for social change, introducing holistic urban research and legacy-oriented programming as the core of its model.
Manifesta is still run by its original founder, Dutch historian Hedwig Fijen, and managed by a permanent team of international specialists. Each new edition is started up and fundraised individually. Currently, Manifesta is working from its offices in Amsterdam and Palermo, with an upcoming office in Marseille for Manifesta 13 opening in the French city in 2020.”
Shani’s work is part of ReSignifications, an exhibition and conference that rewrites the narrative of black portraiture in European art. Details about the opening at the Zisa Zona Arti Contemporanee (ZAC) are on the flyer below.
Shani will be debuting several new works on paper in this exhibition, opening tonight at Harvard University. If you are in the Cambridge area, please come to the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery for a reception beginning at 6pm.
“The Cooper Gallery spring 2018 exhibition features an interpretive version of the remarkable installation, ReSignifications, by our guest curator, Awam Ampka. ReSignifications was originally presented in 2015 at New York University’s Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy as part of “Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body and Re-Staging Histories.”
ReSignifications links classical and popular representations of African bodies in European art, culture and history as it interprets and interrogates the “Blackamoor” trope in Western culture that emerged at the intersection of cross-cultural encounters shaped by centuries of migration, exchange, conquest, servitude, and exile.
The installation includes contemporary artists who respond to the artists and designers of yore, and infuse inert objects of art with voice and presence across the ages.”
Narratives From Inside
Wednesday, February 7
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 West 27th Street
New York, NY
Panelists: Nigel Poor, Virginia Grise, Vee Bravo, and Russell Craig
“How can storytelling convey the experience of incarceration? Be it photographs, podcasts, or fiction workshops, these panelists deploy various modes of narrative strategy to bring stories of incarceration beyond prison walls.
Join us for the first in a series of public programs that accompany the spring issue of Aperture magazine and the related exhibition, Prison Nation, photographers, writers, historians, and activists discuss the unique role photography, art, and storytelling play in understanding and creating a dialogue around the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States. Following this panel, there will be a short reception to celebrate the opening of this exhibition.”
Shani Jamila is a visual artist whose work explores identity, genealogy and the idea of home. Her travels to nearly fifty countries deeply inform her painting, photography and collage practice. An Aspen Institute Scholar, TED Resident, and Fulbright fellow, she exhibits and lectures internationally. Her work has been presented at the Manifesta European Contemporary Art Biennial, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y Diseño, Smack Mellon, Corridor Gallery and Ethelbert Cooper Gallery. She's spoken about the arts and society at institutions including Harvard, NYU, Odeon Firenze, the New York Times and the United Nations, in addition to hosting live discussions at the Brooklyn Museum, Aperture Foundation, Lincoln Center, and New York Live Arts. Her podcast, Lineage, features artist to artist dialogues about making home in NYC. Shani has been named a 2019 Artist in Residence at the Ace Hotel and MASS MoCA. Her portrait and quote are featured in “A Choice to Change the World,” a permanent exhibition at her alma mater Spelman College.