7

Mattress Factory Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
June - December 2022

mattress.org/works/7

Installation Description

A lush underground sanctuary blanketed with vines of ivy, eucalyptus, and wisteria houses six towering goddesses with six corresponding altars of worship. Each goddess is a Black woman; deservedly exalted; adorned in the gifts left for them; and housed in communion with her sister deities. Evidence of recent Bacchanalia and worship–wine glasses, cheese & fruit, discarded garments, candles, incense, sage, oils, herbs–are scattered throughout, converging in the middle of the space.

The goddesses depicted are Vodou, Yoruban, Hindu, Brazilian, Hebrew, and Roman and wouldn’t, in any recognized instance, be worshiped together. But here, cultural, religious, and spiritual delineations are non-existent. Traced all the way back to Mitochondrial Eve (the matrilineal ancestor from whom all humans descend) and beyond, people of the African diaspora are the origins of humanity. Black women, then, as creators of original life, are both the gods and the earth of humanity. The all.

This is a place for Black women and femmes, especially the m/others, the queers, the outcasts, the sex workers, the misunderstood, and the overlooked, to be at careless play, at deserved rest, deep in thought, and rooted in joy with their mothers: Mami Wata, Oshun, Aranyani, Venus, Lilith, and Pomba Gira. The intent of depicting Black womanhood as goddess-like is not to separate us from our humanity, but to remind us that it’s a matter of self-preservation to begin all worship within and in our likeness. And “7”, highly symbolic in numerology and multiple cultures, religions, antiquities, and practices, ultimately stands for every Black woman who steps in this space. You complete this reverent compilation. You are the final, the infinite, the omega. There aren’t six goddesses, there are seven, and the 7th is you.

7 is my homage and my reminder and the installation will continue to grow; the altars continue to accumulate offerings, for the entirety of its run in this space.

To Black womanhood–motherhood, femininity, sexuality, fertility, rage, wrath, defiance and all combinations therein–be the glory. 

Materials

mounted archival prints, items of worship, earth, artificial food, flowers, plants, greenery