If you haven’t been to the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Fort Greene, you are missing out. One of my favorite museums, I first came across MoCADA in 2008 when I reviewed Dread Scott’s “Welcome to America” exhibit at the museum for Racewire (now Colorlines). Founding in 1999, MoCADA is known for its progressive programming, featuring exibits from renowned and upcoming black artists that are shifting the conversation on blackness, diaspora, race, and American culture.
I’m honored to have been asked to deejay the opening reception for the museum’s newest exhibit of work called “Vision Quest”. Curated by Isissa Komada-John, it features the work of Amaryllis Dejesus Molenski and Sheena Rose, women of color with unique mixed media visual visions of the world.
Having read about their work, it’s a pretty great diasporic feminist combo of artists.
Vision Quest is a collection of whimsical, visual tales of powerful female protagonists on earthly and otherworldly adventures. Artists Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski and Sheena Rose use works on paper, hand-drawn animations and mixed-media works to recount their experiences and create new stories of voyages through time and space. Existing at the crux of the playful and the political, the artists have invented their own visual languages to document women’s stories in ways that diverge from dominant narratives of female experience. Each body of work exists as a travel narrative that blurs the lines between past, present and future, and invites viewers to faraway lands while exposing the magic that exists all around us.
In Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski’s drawings, imagined futuristic mythologies are born. Her characters transport spectators to other dimensions, and tell stories of a potential future where femininity and queerness are valued and exalted. Referencing Egyptian hieroglyphics, beauty products, comics, spiritual archetypes and outer space, Amaryllis creates visionary accounts of beings who exist at the intersection of goddess and human. By defying eurocentric art historical rules of proportion and scale, Amaryllis’ characters exist authentically, and invite onlookers to do the same.
Sheena Rose uses hand-drawn lines to document her everyday experiences and perceptions of the world around her. Originally from Barbados, West Indies, Sheena is a world-traveller. She photographs her journeys across the globe and translates them into a unique language of lines, making each place she visits her own. Through line weight, texture, repetition and mixed-media interventions into her drawings, Sheena captures the energy of each landscape she illustrates. Viewers are given the opportunity to see the world through her eyes, from her particular physical perspective. Each drawing is an act of agency, personal reflection and connection to her viewers. Amaryllis and Sheena’s practices are simultaneously tools for personal processing and public calls for self-determination.
Vision Quest examines travel, whether cross-continental or to another galaxy, as a tool for escaping the confines of stereotypes, and an opportunity for self-exploration and definition. The artists’ use of widely accessible materials — including pens, markers, watercolor, and computer and construction paper — reflects their desires to connect with their viewers in a relatable way and bring them into the artistic process. From disparate angles of the supernatural and the everyday, Vision Quest highlights the importance of documentation, storytelling and record keeping from one’s own point of view. Vision Quest emphasizes the power of art to transport us from our current realities and inspires us to embark on quests of our own.