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2 Fulton West
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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Panel Talk: Abandoned Margins: Policing the Black Female Body


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Panel Talk: Abandoned Margins: Policing the Black Female Body

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Mengly Hernandez, Make Your Mark, Digitally printed silk faille polyester; 36 x 52.5 inches

Mengly Hernandez, Make Your Mark, Digitally printed silk faille polyester; 36 x 52.5 inches

UICA Members: Free
Public: Free with gallery admission

Join us for a discussion led by a panel of community organizers, scholars, and artists as we investigate depictions of the black female body in art and in United States’ popular culture. The panel will recognize ways that traditional representations of black women aid in systemic racism and marginalization, and will consider methods for using visual language to challenge stereotypes instead of perpetuate them.

Enjoy food provided by Donkey Taqueria, and a cash bar.

Meet the Panelists.

Jessica Marie Johnson, Ph.D writes about histories of slavery and the slave trade; women, gender, and sexuality in the African diaspora; and digital history and new media.  Her current book manuscript is a history of free women of African descent laboring, living, and traveling between eighteenth-century Senegal, Saint-Domingue, and Gulf Coast Louisiana. Her second project is a collaboration with Dr. Mark Anthony Neal (Duke University) compiling work reading nineteenth-century black codes against present-day "black code” or digital vernaculars of people of African descent.  Johnson is the founder/curator of African Diaspora, Ph.D, and is the recipient of research fellowships and awards from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Gilder-Lehrman Institute, the Richards Civil War Era Center, and the Africana Research Center at the Pennsylvania State University.  She is currently an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Regis M. Fox, Assistant Professor of English at Grand Valley State University, earned her Ph. D in English from the University of California, Riverside.  Her primary research interests include Nineteenth-Century American Literatures, Feminist Theory, and African-American Literary and Cultural Studies.  She has published in such journals as Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal and the Journal of American Studies, as well as in edited collections, including A Determined Life: The Elizabeth Keckley Reader (Eno Press 2016).  A McKnight Junior Faculty Fellow for the 2015-16 academic year, she is currently completing her book manuscript under contract with University Press of Florida titled Unsung, Unwavering: Nineteenth-Century Black Women's Epistemologies and the Liberal Problematic.

Janice Bond is a curator, interdisciplinary artist, and cultural producer specializing in arts and culture.  As a visual/multimedia artist, her original paintings, installations, and collective soundscapes focus on multidimensional human perspectives and identity, sacred geometry, sound frequencies, and indigenous fractal patterns found in various cultures and urban landscapes. In 2014, Bond opened Gallery ONI, a contemporary art gallery and cultural space located in Chicago, Illinois dedicated to promoting the work of women artists of color.  As featured guest curator for Here + Now, Bond will present a new iteration of Abandoned Margins: Policing the Black Female Body, which debuted at Chicago’s Woman Made Gallery in early 2016.

Breannah Alexander is Director of Strategic Programs at Partners for a Racism-Free Community. She is responsible for the management of all external community-based programming, education program design and communications. Additionally she is the Founder and Managing Director of women reVamped, an organization established in response to a growing need for female centered initiatives and a personal passion for ensuring the empowerment of young girls. Breannah’s previous experience includes serving as the Program Manager of Michigan’s Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps Program, an AmeriCorps State member at Grand Rapids Community Foundation and 6 years working in various capacities with youth grant-makers in Michigan and across the nation.  She is also Co-Chair of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Grand Rapids board and a Leader with Opportunity Nation, a national campaign to increase economic mobility for young people in the United States. Breannah was previously a Commissioner on the Michigan Community Service Commission, and board member of the Michigan LEAGUE board.

Sarah Beth Woods, Esther and Anonymous, Hair weave, shoe laces, ribbon, aluminium; 2 x 64 x 7 x 30 inches

Sarah Beth Woods, Esther and Anonymous, Hair weave, shoe laces, ribbon, aluminium; 2 x 64 x 7 x 30 inches

Abandoned Margins: Policing the Black Female Body

“He grabbed me, twisted my arm on my back and shoved me in the grass and starting pulling the back of my braids. I was telling him to get off me because my back was hurting bad,” said 15 year old Dajerria Becton of her attempted arrest at a pool party.

“I will light you up! Get out! Now!” said the officer as he drew a stun gun and pointed it at 28 year old Sandra Bland after she refused to leave her car following the receipt of her ticket.

Representations of black women in US popular culture and public discourse frequently depict them stereotypically as overweight and asexual, or hypersexualized and in need of less protection but more policing for moral failures. The black female body then becomes an object in the faces of power, brutality, and fetishism– detached from the name and genuine identity it belongs to.

Abandoned Margins: Policing the Black Female Body was curated by Janice Bond, and originated at Chicago’s Woman Made Gallery in 2016.  “Abandoned Margins” seeks to both lay bare this inequitable and sectarian lens, as well as create an empowering visual language that challenges the supremacist systems under which black female bodies are marginalized and lack agency.     - Janice Bond,  Curator | Interdisciplinary Artist | Cultural Producer

Artists participating as part of Abandoned Margins: Policing the Black Female Body include:
Alexis McGrigg, April Martin, Brittney Leeanne Williams, Candace Hunter, Emily Mulenga, Fabiola Jean-Louis, Harmonia Rosales, Ify Chiejina, Jasmine Murrell, Kim Nogueira, LaToya Hobbs, LEE BULLITT, LINEA Germania, Marcia Michael, Melissa SK, Nature’s Intent, NIC Kay, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Sarah Beth Woods, Shani Crowe, Sharla Hammond, Shoshanna Weinberger, Tye Johnson.


Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations should contact Megan Bylsma, Associate Director, at 616.454.7000 x11 or at least 72 hours in advance.

Earlier Event: March 17
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