Slought is pleased to announce the “The first time, ever I saw your face,” an exhibition about Colored Girlhood that transforms the gallery into a site of contemplation, healing and remembrance, on display February 26, 2021 through April 30, 2021. Organized by and presented in partnership with The Colored Girls Museum (TCGM), the exhibition is, in effect, a one room school house that replicates the experience of being in the house museum. Joining painting, multimedia, and installation, it is centered by a portrait series, “The first time, ever I saw your face,” which was commissioned by the museum and inspired by Roberta Flack’s iconic 1972 rendition of the same name. The series features six paintings by Black female artists of Black girls ages 10-18. The artists and their muses include Misha McGlowen/Madison Proctor, Nile Livingston/Tyjanea Williams, Chanell Phillips/Christen Harvey, Serena Saunders/Myka Ollison, Aysha Ray Walker/Haley Ray, and Tara Pearson aka Misty Sol/Ayah Pearson.
Black girlhood is a site of great triumph and sometimes trauma. This portrait project focuses on their intersection in a visual narrative which takes a classic museum artifact, “the portrait,” as its primary subject. Black Girls, while often looked at, are seldom seen. This project creates space to see black girls in their girlhood, and offers the portrait of the ordinary black girl as a monument. This portrait series, which is envisioned as a traveling experience, emphasizes the importance of black girls and black womxn expanding her boundaries and moving about the world while simultaneously highlighting the tension and danger inherent in her movement.
What are the personal psychic spiritual and economic costs of fully exercising our humanity as global citizens? What happens when the colored girl leaves home? How does The Colored Girl stay safe during a pandemic? “The first time, ever I saw your face” is the first exhibit designed by TCGM to leave the house museum and travel throughout Philadelphia and out of state. In so doing, this exhibition seeks to bring awareness to the stories of ordinary and extraordinary black girls, while simultaneously exploring the effects impact of Covid-19 and the collateral fallout.
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