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.
Public Speaking + Public Service
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.