‘Colonial Currents: Black Women, Water, Trauma, and Baptism’ At The 15th National Black Writers Conference

The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York (CBL) presents the 15th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC2020). The conference, which started on Wednesday, runs until Saturday, November 14, 2020. The event, in association with Akila Worksongs, was rescheduled from its annually-held Spring dates due to COVID-19 and will be held virtually. This year’s theme, Activism, Identity, and Race: Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads, is a new focus for the Conference that boldly affirms and celebrates how the diaspora’s playwrights and screenwriters expand society’s understanding of Black life and the human experience. Forming part of an exciting program of events, anthropologist and interdisciplinary artist Alexis Alleyne-Caputo (Afro Diaries™) will present her short film titled  ‘Colonial Currents: Black Women, Water, Trauma, and Baptism’. 

Further to her previous projects exploring issues affecting black and brown communities, Alexis Alleyne Caputo’s project draws on current pertinent and intersecting issues, underscoring racial injustice, police brutality, climate change, COVID-19, and the global momentum supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.  The short film will be followed by a Q&A, which I have been invited to participate in.

Much reflection is given on how artists, activists, and educators can respond to the conference’s overall theme of activism, identity, and race whilst widening discussion, exploring solutions and disseminating findings beyond the conference’s virtual registrants. The artist who contributed to the project were Andria Thomas, Anasthasia Grand-Pierre, Cheryl Harrell, Desiree Parkman, Kashia Kancey, Maryann A. Payne-Benjamin, M.M.N. Caputo, Na’Talya Elizabeth Duhart, Shawna Watson, Shawnnette Longley (Rimidi), and Yolande Clark-Jackson.

Speaking on the eve of the conference Alexis Alleyne Caputo explains, ”This is a response to the conference theme of  Activism, Identity, and Race: Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads. The African American experience must be recorded and viewed from a wider lens, understanding similar or shared experiences of black people across the world. Milestones in history, our response, and the narrative of the African diaspora’s story matters. This is best served via the collaboration of literary, visual, and musical minds to celebrate our being and shape our future’’.

Other conference highlights include roundtable conversations, panel discussions, a town hall, film screenings, author readings, writing and playwrighting talk shops, a local vendor marketplace, and much more. The four-day virtual gathering brings together students, writers, artists, activists, scholars, literary professionals, theater and film giants, and other literature enthusiasts from near and far. The aim is to explore the challenges, rewards, and impact of working within the Black film and theater industries. Discussions will examine the ways that race, identity, politics, and popular culture shape the production of plays, films, and television shows.

For further information on Alexis Alleyne Caputo please visit https://alexiscaputo.com/

Click here for the program for the day.  For further information and bookings for the 15th National Black Writers Conference (NBWC2020) please visit https://centerforblackliterature.com

The featured image, courtesy of Alexis Alleyne Caputo  features Anasthasia Grand-Pierre (left) and  Maryann A. Benjamin (right)

Let Creativity Continue!

It’s been a long and difficult year so far. The ongoing COVID pandemic and the plight of so many is the summary of 2020. It continues to be a  particularly difficult time for the creative industries and freelancers on projects halted due to the uncertainties the pandemic brings. On a personal front, I’ve directed my energy on working on personal projects and spending time in the studio to combat feelings of upset, anxiety and worry over how life has changed for so many in so short a time. I had the pleasure of being included in a series of interviews with Scripps National News focusing on how people are coping with COVID and regional lockdowns. Check it out !

I’ve also had the pleasure of engaging with other artists and interviewed a number for Occhi Magazine. This has been inspiring and motivational. I encourage you to read some of our recent articles for inspiration, encouragement and believe we can channel our energy into being creative and finding a therapeutic release during these times. Articles include artists Audrey Barcio, Jessica Hess , REWA and Visual Artist Denis Mubiru.

Audrey Barcio, an American visual artist known for her paintings and installations.  Her work has been featured in New American Paintings, and in 2019, she was awarded a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant. Barcio maintains a rigorous, interdisciplinary studio practice in which notions of action, labor, and the human condition intersect with the history of Modernism to form the basis of aesthetic explorations.

Oakland, CA-based artist Jessica Hess is a hyperreal landscape painter. Her depictions of the urban environment both celebrate and validate the art of graffiti through a fine art lens of oil paintings on canvas and gouache on paper. Her awe-inspiring paintings have a powerful, dramatic, and captivating energy that feeds a desire to know more about the person behind the work. It was a pleasure to connect with Jessica to discuss her art and future projects.

My first impression of REWA’s art is its bright, harmonious, intense, and rich nature. The vibrancy and life in each picture draw you in, to examine its construction with excitement. She studied Physiology & Pharmacology at University College London and worked in the Insurance industry, so it was interesting to explore REWA’s development as an artist and approach to her work

Ugandan Artist Denis Mubiru provides a powerful blend of force, flavor, and prominence in his vivid, vibrant, and arresting work. His paintings, reminiscent of Basquiat,  are inspired by popular culture with bright colors and stylized imagery. Central to his work is the theme of transport and the migration or movement of people. His artworks often include roughly applied text which highlight the significance of thoughts or his experiences at the time.

These and other articles  are featured on Occhi Magazine. Wishing you all a safe and happy week ahead!

Images provided to Occhi Magazine, courtesy of the artists

Jessica Hess photo by Dustin Cantrell