A New Vocabulary: Labor, Narrative, and Radical Possibility in the Work of Black Feminist Artists

Black feminist thought is a resource for empowerment language and creative disruption, used for personal and political transformation. Hortense Spillers’s essay “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book” (2006) is an exemplar of this tradition: an analysis of the Black woman in cultures, histories, and literatures, the essay calls for insurgency and monstrosity to break apart the constraints of gender so that human subjects can move more freely in unbounded, social space. Spillers described this necessary work as reconfiguring, a word that productively suggests shaping and forming—necessarily again and again—and is applicable to the notion that feminisms are many and varied. Building on Spillers’s enduring insights, this conversation explores the labor of Black feminist artists to create new vocabulary that imagines the human beyond the constraints of heteronormative white supremacy.

Courtney Desiree Morris is a visual/performance artist and assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at UC Berkeley. Jacqueline Francis is an art historian and associate professor and chair of the Graduate Program in Visual and Critical Studies at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle (Olomidara Yaya) is a multidisciplinary visual artist, writer, performer, and healer.

Presented by the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Participants and topics are subject to change; visit Berkeley Arts + Design (artsdesign.berkeley.edu) for the most up-to-date series information.