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WANAWARI! and A Salute to A Few Other Galleries

WaNaWari wins a headline again with five provocative installations.

Carletta Carrington Wilson’s “Night of the Stereotypes,” in the kitchen, includes assemblages and a zine you can take home for $30. The artist summarizes the zine: “mammy and pickaninny embark, with a host of other stereotypical caricatures prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries, on a journey to confront the image-makers and, especially, to demand a role in the portrayal of their likeness on the silver screen.”

Watermelon-themed fabric hangs from the ceiling and over some of the windows. Wilson’s hand-made textiles and assemblages reframe the rampant stereotypes of slaves that pervaded products, cartoons, language, and above all, film. My favorite was “You ever think about owning your own home” a four-sided assemblage with references to the food served (heavy meals), songs, and slave caricature-kitsch embedded in small piles of cotton that fill the house. Carletta states: “Stripped of the ability to make themselves known as, not only historical but human beings, the African body, under enslavement became a surface upon which images, representation meanings and definitions were ascribed and imposed upon by their captors: Through the use of paper, pen, film, cloth and other materials countless objects populated a world of caricatures traveling further, wider a longer through and over time.”

Filling the living and dining room and focusing on the black body in an entirely different way, dancer-photographer Shoccara Marcus created “Choreographing my Past.” Her extraordinary dance positions intersect and somehow remain isolated from the members of her family in her childhood home. Although she created the series in 2014, it perfectly speaks to today, as so many people have returned to their parents’ home to wait out the pandemic.

Another nostalgic work upstairs by Mia Imani Harrison Good Mourning: A Collective Calls to Miss Annie, combines audio and video recollections of an exceptionally beloved black hairdresser, Miss Annie. It includes a handout with homages to black beauty products, poems by the artist and the narrative of the audio. This work generously shares a very private aspect of the lives of African American women.