During my first artist talk at Gallery Aferro, I spoke about what it is like being stimulated and inspired by working among visual artists, while feeling a bit of ennui about the fact that my art and its development is not visible. Though, of course, I often humbly feel quite visible as the inaugural Writer in Residence at Gallery Aferro, I often feel tempted to create visible evidence of my process. Walt Whitman stated, “Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Same here, yet thankfully my temptation to litter my studio with index cards or the like are placed at bay at the acknowledgement that it would be mere artifice. Truth be told, my tentative sense of invisibility is diminished in unexpected ways each time I enter Gallery Aferro. When I arrive on the third floor, I have the pleasure of walking through three studios on the way to my assigned space, Studio 10. Each time I travel through the floor, there is a new story or exploration that is revealed to me by my fellow residents. I often step back and observe Tasha Lewis’ sculptures, inquisitively ponder the role that Shakespeare’s The Tempest plays in her current project and admire how she captures the atmospheric mysticism of that timeless play in her work. As I continue to my studio, I am captivated by Amanda Thackray’s sculptures including work from her engaging series entitled Knots. Amanda’s work sparks contemplation and wonder about the role that binding can play; either to secure or ensnare. Lastly, before reaching my studio, I explore the work in Valerie Huhn’s studio in which she is developing luminous installations reflective of Valerie’s colorful fingerprints, which explore identity. The complexity of self-identification is a theme which I explore in my work; most recently in my short play, TALK WHITE. Witnessing Valerie’s journey with the same subject matter provides an enlightening perspective and an opportunity for new angles of inquiry.
After my journey through the studios of my fellow resident artists, I have the endearing experience of shaping the lives of the characters that I am developing in my new plays. I am generating characters whose lives are marked by the duality of immersion and submersion, as inspired by Tasha’s work. The lives of the players in my work are alternately secured or ensnared by the either securing or binding nature of expectation; informed by Amanda’s pieces. Within my work in progress, TALK WHITE, the main character Mason, grapples with unraveling her identity as a Black girl whose parents find her recognition of cultural ancestry insufficient and routinely argue the merits of freeing her from her comfort with whiteness while ensconced in her brown skin.
As, I ponder how I continue to grow and shift as a writer, I explore my identity and how I change; how my practice evolves and takes on different processes. This allows the shape of my cognitive and imaginative machinations to reshape my story telling. When I take a seat in my studio and settle in to create, I feel empowered and ready to write; the ideas arrive with more alacrity than in any other space in which I have composed. My conscious raising stories are imbued with fresh inspiration and power because of the space that I am in as I create. The ability to collaboratively engage in an energetic exchange in which I can, explore and experience a rejuvenation of spirit while writing in residence at Gallery Aferro, is one that leaves a lingering impression on me which is truly invaluable. The promising visibility of my work blooms further and further into fruition with each immersive experience in such an empowering space.