Art and Archiving?
The artform I choose is writing – a very controlled medium. With words I can dance, create music, and conjure worlds that I’ve never dreamed could exist unless I made it so. In sentence structure, I find solace in forming memories that have since been lost to me, or hidden, between the clutched fingers of an eight-year-old me, memories stolen at the opening of a door.
My words are the double-dutch wire of the cement school yard, tap, tap, tapping against the page –creating melody, I jump inside, keep the rhythm, all the girls are doing it; I try to learn tricks, even if I’m secretly double-handed and can’t jump for shit.
Always tangling up the rope. So, what of archiving?
There are intersections that exist in the world where art -what I see as emotions and thought made tangible, sometimes akin to how I see magick, where we move things, people, concepts with our intentions. Art blends passion with fruition. It is creative energy. Art is amorphous if the aim is to define its lines, consider its boundaries, or group its characteristics with others. Are we not inclined as artists to un-name ourselves? Declassify? Choose to walk outside of any pre-scribed box?
But what if the box is acid free?
I’m on a panel next Tuesday, May 21st, with Black women artists and archivists called, The Finding Aid. It’s goal is to discuss black women at the intersections of art and archiving. Somehow, I’m in this category. I’m meant to discuss how this is true, the place where the two ‘A’ words meet, that fuzzy place where order meets chaos, where science creates magick, where for me, my day job friends me on Facebook and I’m caught with my ass hanging out, oops, hi there Professor Daniels, oh, you’re coming to the panel, awesome!
This is my largest hurdle.
When art aims to mix with that place of tedium called archiving. Although, art can be tedious too. Have you ever been up all night affixing a varnish onto a painted object, measured a line to its smallest denominator, or edited a story for the 30th time, until you’ve decided it should be a poem instead? I have done all of these things. Art can be tedious.
However, when it comes to Her Saturn Returns, I have claimed her as my rebel place. My outside world. My turning 30, with others, a personal journey. Here, in this blog, having had over 50 interviews with queer women of color from across the country, after receiving the writing from women from around the world, we have revealed our hardest moments: Abortion, heartbreak, the passing of our dear parent, being disowned, homelessness, deep deep fear and regret, and sometimes things that weren’t so easy to unveil, like the ways that male bodies have trapped us, into fearing parts of ourselves.
Saturnistas have also come to fruition here. Many have found themselves as soon as they hit the ripe age of 30/31/32. They make a claim of their journeys and acknowledge who they are. They meet their ancestral mothers who guide them. They learn the ‘knowing’ that leads them to the next steps, holds their hand, touches their forehead with universal kisses. These women, these Saturnistas are all-powerful. This is the art of their lives; through spirit, they have found solace and connection to themselves.
I for one have found deep internal connection. In 18 days, I am getting married
This wedding, which has taken over my life, has also grounded me to what things are important to me.
Art & Archiving & Queer Women of Color
Family & Spiritual Connection & Love
Somewhere, in the Her Saturn Return Project, these six things are blended. If for no other reason, since these women’s stories are true, they must be documented. And since I don’t get paid for it, why not call it art –it’s sexier that way, no?
On Tuesday, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, I have 7 minutes to convince a room filled with artists and archivists and academics, my colleagues and lovers, hetero and homo alike, myself included, that somewhere, these two things blend, and that that matters, all the while, I’ll be thinking about whether the cake design was placed and if my dress is ready to be picked up.
And so it goes.
This Saturn life of mine.