Queer Mothers’ Space is a multi-sensory scream for Black&queer justice in a time of environmental genocide. This space roils as/like a hurricane, storming down the market systems suckled at birth by chattel slavery. In this storm’s wake, I leave fertile ground to revolutionize global provision and nourishment. I offer a gentle breeze for children to befriend and a wild tempest to tatter the sails of the unjust. For inspiration, I think of what my woods used to be.
The Alabama woods, my first art museum, are browning. The grass in my family’s little hamlet of 100 souls no longer clothes itself in morning dew. The morning air no longer turns blue regularly between the loblolly pines. The next crop of okra and field peas hasn’t been planted in twenty years. Main Street, in the big town down the way, folded to Walmart’s half-priced, quarter-made imitations. I’m 33. I’ve seen most of those dearest to me from back home to their graves. I long for the rusted, browning stories of the old folks’ steel mill escapades up Nof’. Familiarity lingers in the stench of trees boiling in a rage of sulfuric acid: the paper mills are always hiring. Oil companies cut up my swamps into Swiss cheese to get to the Gulf faster, leaving all who live there turning and twisting, vulnerable to ever more forceful hurricanes.
You’ll forgive me if I want to destroy things.
I spent a great deal of my 20’s going through lists of things I’d like to destroy: myself, for not being able to manage independently; others for being in a place where they could do something and covering their ass with the complacency of well-resourced apathy; the Metropolitan Museum for putting African art in a room that looks like the food stamp office got it’s nails done; the Whitney plantation museum for embodying in waterfront glass and steel the country my family has lived in since the Declaration of Indepedence was signed, the country I may never truely be a member of; Oberlin for making life hell on Earth for Black students; global markets, for the stupid economic religion that all natural competition is zero sum.
So, to remind me of home—amid an installation full of embroidered denim quilts, home-canned food, a clothesline to hang your emotional dirty laundry and a self-theft room; spicy and bitter craft cocktails; music by Yatta Zoker and me; a crab and Conecuh sausage gumbo dinner; poetry by Dre Cardinal, and a conversation in a Southern truck garden that I’ve grown for this show—I rage. I destroy. I craft. I green. I care. I queer. I mother.
This work was made possible, in part, by the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by Jerome Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.