ABOVE: Aesthetic Inheritances wall is displayed during its screening event
Stacey Allen, a performance artist, collaborated with cultural preservationist and photographer Danielle Mason, and filmmaker Ke`da Sharber to showcase their project “Aesthetic Inheritances.” This project delves into the preservation of Black culture and community. The art installation showcased some captivating photos taken by Danielle Mason accompanied by found objects and material culture displayed within the gallery space. The project culminated in a dialogue session, where Allen, Mason, Sharber, and the audience engaged in a thought-provoking and inclusive conversation. Stacey Allen is a current Project Freeway Fellow with Diverse Works. The event was held at HCCAC in unincorporated East Harris County. The Barrett Station community is approximately 15 miles Northeast of the center.
Stacey Allen’s innovative explorations of black material culture in Barrett Station and the neighborhood of Northshore where she works is exactly what DiverseWorks’ Project Freeway program is designed to support, and furthers our intentions to decentralize the focus of arts in Houston to neighborhoods across the city. We are proud to have supported her at this exciting, new stage of her career.
– Xandra Eden, Executive Director of Diverseworks
Prior to the screening, guests were invited into the foyer to experience the visual storyteller through photography and installation. Also, guests were invited to think about their own inheritances by creating collages in the interactive section. Allen, Sharber, and Mason each acknowledged the importance of pedagogy to their practices and the ways motherhood informs their artistic voices. Allen and Mason grounded attendees by leading a participatory meditative ring shout. Allen led the audience through a series of breathing exercises and movement. This processional created a vibrant and energetic atmosphere as the attendees made their way to the theater to watch a film and engage in a conversation. The screening consisted of 3 short films highlighting the topic of land preservation, black Material culture, and inheritance, using the cornerstone of bell hooks’ work ‘Aesthetic Inheritances’ as a foundation to inform the work.
After the film screening, Allen, Mason, and Sharber initiated a thought-provoking discussion by asking the audience, “What does inheritance mean to you?” The question was met with enthusiasm, and individuals of all ages shared their unique perspectives. For instance, young participants, Zora and Chase Allen, the children of Stacey, spoke about their desire for their toys to become a cherished inheritance for future generations. Meanwhile, others shared their personal experiences of family legacies and generational wealth.
“Inheritance doesn’t always have to be tangible, but the messages that we may receive,” Mason added. “My inheritance now is to explore the heritage of black women and how our connection as creatives helps us in abundance.”
During the discussion, several thought-provoking topics were brought up, such as redefining the term “soulful” from a negative connotation in the black community to a positive one, preserving cultural traditions, and pondering the question, “What do we choose to embrace and what do we choose to release?” The atmosphere was electric with positive energy as audience members respectfully engaged in meaningful dialogues, creating a truly memorable and fulfilling conversation.
Learn more about Stacey Allen by visiting www.staceyallencde.com
Learn more about Danielle Mason by visiting www.diasporicdaughter.com
Learn more about Keda Sharber by visiting www.imagesbypapillon.com
Learn more about HCCAC by visiting www.harriscountycac.org
ABOUT PROJECT FREEWAY
The 2022-23 Project Freeway Fellowship Program includes Aesthetic Inheritances and The Kitchen Table Interviews, presented by DiverseWorks.
The Project Freeway Fellowship was developed in response to the rapid growth and diversification of the city of Houston, as well as DiverseWorks’ desire to support innovative artists’ projects that engage all Houstonians, especially in neighborhoods outside of the city center. Fellows will meet with other artists, activists, and arts professionals as part of the program to develop their artistic process, create new partnerships, and learn how to sustain the arts in their local communities.
About Harris County Cultural Arts Council
The Harris County Cultural Arts Council (HCCAC) is a BIPOC-founded and led non-profit arts organization serving unincorporated East Harris County. Its cultural center serves as the premier destination for residents, artists, and tourists to experience rich arts and culture in the area. HCCAC works to eradicate the cultural desert in the area by providing a space for art to thrive and for those in underrepresented areas to participate without leaving their community. HCCAC works to expand arts access in underserved communities, amplify black voices, and level the playing field for black creatives through training and development, the provision of free studio space, and financial support.