Complex Exchange: Figuring Black Futures Today


Complex Exchange features presenters and practices that reference black experience and lives of people of color from a local context. Join in this series of conversations with Seattle community members from a variety of disciplines to tackle themes inspired by the exhibition Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas on view at the Seattle Art Museum, and Everyday Black at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM).

This program will feature designer and photographer Jessica Rycheal, dancer and choreographer Nia-Amina Minor, and Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, President of Seattle Central College. Leilani Lewis will moderate.

Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas brings together three generations of prominent contemporary American artists, whose work challenges a Western painting tradition that underrepresents people of color. The vibrant and monumental paintings by these artists offer bold perspectives on Black culture and representation. Presented together for the first time, the figurative paintings of Colescott, Marshall, and Thomas are shaped by distinctive historic events, unique in style, and united in questioning the narratives of history through Black experience.

Everyday Black is a captivating collection of portraits of a diverse group of Seattle community members by contemporary photographers Zorn B. Taylorand Jessica Rycheal. This show offers insightful meditations on identity and chosen community as the artists explore what it means to belong. Taylor and Rycheal present snapshots that beautifully bear witness to the everyday lives of black community members in Seattle and beyond. / Video: Seattle Art Museum

EVERYDAY BLACK, the Reception Recap

I’m still floating off the energy from the Everyday Black opening reception celebrating a selection of my portraits alongside the work of photographer Zorn B. Taylor and me. Over eight-hundred fifty people came out to view the exhibit curated by C. Davida Ingram and Leilani Lewis. According to the Northwest African-American Museum, it was the largest reception turnout to date. It felt  like a family reunion, and that was the most important thing for me. To be wrapped in beautiful energy, surrounded by blackness, and to bring the often-compartmentalized segments of black and brown folks in Seattle together in a room full of love and joy. And I got that and some more. 

You could quite literally feel the love in the air. There were smiling faces everywhere, people from all walks of life and friends from many different backgrounds. Colleagues from past jobs, my new colleagues, past directors, the first friends I ever made in Seattle, artists and writers I fangirl over all the time. A couple of my close friends from college even came all the way from Atlanta to bring me love and support from my day-one village. I wanted to cry so bad, but the way mascara is set It was so dope to be in a space where black folks got to "just be,” without having to carry the weight of our blackness or our intersectionalities. We all got to exist in the same space --basking in the vibe, munching on soul food, dancing and laughing till our bellies hurt. Meeting new "kinfolk" and celebrating an exhibition centering “every day black folks.” It was everything I needed, and I'm incredibly grateful. It was legitimately one of the best nights of my life, without exaggeration. I'm excited to share a video recap produced by TRIX, a few retrospective thoughts and a bit of awkwardness.

Thank you a million times more,  C. Davida Ingram and Leilani Lewis, for curating all of this magic and every little detail that made it work. Thank you to LaNesha  DeBardelaben, Barbara Earl Thomas, Marie Kidhe, S. Surface, Chieko Phillips, Eve Sanford, Jared Moore, and the supportive team at the Northwest African-American Museum whose time, energy and contributions made this possible. Thank you to the partners and sponsors whose support help fund projects and exhibitions like Everyday Black. 

Video for the Opening Reception of Everyday Black, a contemporary portrait exhibition curated by C. Davida Ingram and Leilani Lewis, featuring Jessica Rycheal & Zorn B. Taylor at Seattle's Northwest African-American Museum (NAAM). Video produced by Trix.