15 Jul Powerfully Seated: Women of Vision, Inc. Exhibit at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center
Power is something that attracts, corrupts, intimidates, violates, scares and offends, among other things. Everyone wants to have some share of power to be able to hold her own relationally, socially, economically and politically, at the very least. Without any, or, very little power, one is often at the mercy of another or a group of others, who might choose to use that power to silence, abuse, or oppress. But, in a more positive and perhaps naive sense, power is simply the ability that someone has, thanks to his/her political, economic or social capital, to influence the behavior or comportment of another, or a group of others. While power isn’t always coercive or oppressive, it often is when a person or a group of people feel entitled to excessively use it to advance their agenda, whether political or economic, often at the detriment of others who hold very little or no power.
Power, however, can also be something that one develops, gains or exercises without any intent to harm or damage others. To peacefully resist the unjust power of another is to search within oneself for tools that allow one to transcend humiliation, pain and suffering and find a voice that tells of that suffering. Such resistance is power, it is about having the gumption to voice and counter the injustices one has been subjected to. Finding one’s voice and fearlessly expressing it is perhaps the ultimate power of the oppressed. Art is a creative outlet that definitely allows for voices to manifest and soar. This seems to be the raison d’être of the exhibition, “Seats of Power,” currently on display at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, in Pittsburgh.
“Seats of power” is an incredible collection of 17 Women of Vision artists that includes a wide range of artworks, from painting, mixed media to sculpture, quilts and installations. The collection also features some works that invite guests to participate: a card game, writing and art making. Participatory art is a beautiful way to engage visitors in co-creating meaning through art-making and can be a powerful tool to initiate the youth in making art or having an aha moment.
The exhibition is meant to pay “tribute to prominent and unsung heroes, mentors and sources of inspiration that echo stories of the past, present and future.” As the oldest African-American women artists collective in the USA, Women of Vision, Inc. is an organization of artists who strongly believe in the power of art in all its forms to nurture, heal and transform. Art for Women of Vision, Inc. is also a repository of its members’ heritage and experiences, where both their past and future can be recorded, celebrated and remembered.
“Seats of Power” is indeed another successfully curated exhibition at the August Wilson Africna American Cultural Center, thanks to the raw sensibility and artistic deft of Kilolo Luckett, its curator of visual arts. These works educate the public about art and the haunting power of the voices and stories they communicate. The power they hold and manifest in the beautifully curated space of this cultural center comes from the pain and trauma lived and experienced in the flesh by generations who continue to resist subjugation and oppression. Their powerful voices will not be silenced and they will not give away their seats, to anyone, ever. Instead, they make art that claims a powerful presence and sensibility, amongst other American artists.
The opening reception for “Seats of Power” on May 22nd delivered on its promise to free the voices, visions and creative noises and unleash the Power of Women of Vision, Inc. The discussion facilitated by Kilolo Luckett was thought provoking and edifying, featuring former Women of Vision member Renee Stout and Women of Vision associate Willis Bing Davis. The discussion centered about the creative process and the history of Women of Vision, Inc. The exhibition, which will be on display until July 21st, 2019, includes works by Tina Williams Brewer, Mayota Hill, LaVerne Kemp and Harriette A. Meriweathe.
“Seats of Power” https://aacc-awc.org/event/seats-of-power/ April 27-July 21, 2019. The exhibition is organized by: Kilolo Luckett (Curator of Visual Arts) in collaboration with Women of Visions, Inc.
Photography © Joey Kennedy & Fadoua Loudiy
Fadoua Loudiy is an author, consultant and professor of communication. Her interests are diversity, transitional justice, ethics and the arts. A native of Morocco, she currently resides in Pittsburgh. She can be reached at email@example.com