Earlier this fall, the DHC purchased the pieces “Octavia Butler” and “June Jordan” from Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ Black Feminist Breathing Chorus series as a means to bring more life and color into the DHC. These pieces are vibrant, textured, immersive, and poignant. As Octavia Butler and June Jordan gaze out from the center of the frame, they embody poise and wisdom. Inspired by the pieces in this series, we decided to organize a collaborative collage making activity dedicated to the memory and legacy of Ntozake Shange. We chose this activity to honor Shange as a means to both add to Alexis’ original collection of ancestral collages, and to actively engage with the contents of Shange’s personal and professional archive housed in the Milstein Teaching and Learning Center.
Accordingly, the archival materials used in the DHC’s collaborative collage were selected from the Ntozake Shange Papers in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections. Other objects used in the collage include art history textbooks sourced from the Zine Library, gold leaf paper, colored paper, dried leaves, and more. In line with the DHC’s goals of sustainability and collaboration, the collage is assembled on a biodegradable wood panel and was created with the equal perspective of all those who contributed. As they streamed in one by one, participants in the collage making activity were encouraged to choose materials that resonated with their perception of Shange as both a renowned artist and a regular person, and add them to the live collage. Layers and layers of love and appreciation were compiled and then organized into this final product.
Thank you to Alexis Pauline Gumbs and all of those who contributed to the collaborative collage for your time, your creative energy, and your vision. Thank you to Ntozake Shange, Octavia Butler and June Jordan for dreaming higher and being so authentically yourselves in your crafts that you made room for other Black girls and boys to do the same. Thank you for the lives you have lived and the legacies you have left behind. It is our personal honor, to honor all of you.
These works will continue to be on view in the DHC during our open hours and by appointment. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about how to visit or grab a free sticker of the collaborative collage.
Article written by Jazmin Maço, DHC 2021 Post-Bacc Fellow.