Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

My work straddles the spheres of interdisciplinary literary and performance art and community organizing. I use theatre and performative installation as cultural work technologies that radicalize people in the service of Black liberation. Afrosurrealism, magical realism, narrative re/memory, kinesthetic imagination and fugitivity in the afterlife of slavery are conceptual preoccupations of my work. Thematically, I am obsessed with land legacies, Black apocalyptic ritual and environmental anti-Black racism.

The body of work I am currently developing centers climate-induced and state-sanctioned water vulnerabilities and displacement rippling in and beyond New Orleans and the Midwest, chiefly Chicago, Illinois and Flint, Michigan. These works explore the politics of disgust, shame and refusal by highlighting the rupture of government intervention at the intersection of capitalism and environmental racism and its impact on dispossessed peoples. To this end, my work often occupies sites of intimate reckoning: water-ridden spaces like kitchens and bathrooms, relationships, dreamworlds and psychic landscapes. I situate rupture in these traditionally sacred or “safe” spaces to make invisible systems of environmental oppression and cultural trauma visible and ultimately ask us to consider abolitionist political ecologies.

Equity, radical empathy and sci-fi living are the core values anchoring my work. In my practice I am asking: How do we (individually and collectively) grapple with exigency, uncertainty and the Black radical imagination as we devise pathways for liberation and justice? Who is forgotten in our multiplicitous, sometimes opposing vision(s) of possible futures? How do we make doing what has never been done before more irresistible than frightening?

Committed to principled struggle, my artistic process is deeply rooted in intergenerational community and dramaturgical rigor. I develop artistic projects based on the needs and desires of the communities who name me. I host gatherings, attend organizing meetings, engage young people and talk to strangers. This kind of relational and bottom-up approach is an extension of the relational organizing model that I practice. Furthermore, I am always reading. I search archives, study theoretical, scientific and political texts, listen to oral histories, biblical folk sermons and folk music and take up regional Black vernaculars. I conduct interviews, examine photographs, map projects on walls and perform guesswork to craft narratives from these gathered fragments of the dispossessed. Because I write place and people, this kind of dramaturgical process, marrying literary archeology with linguistic anthropology, specifies the narrative and sharpens my perspective.