“With the help of the community, The Story Skirt Project is using African political fabrics to create a documentary on what it feels like for Afro-American women -meaning those whose families have been in the United States since slavery- to have their first Black President,” says artist, Aisha Cousins. “Story Skirts explores the notion the presidency is no longer a “dream deferred.” It has come to pass, but not in the manner many expected. The project asks what the aftermath of this has been.” Participants use African political fabrics to create garments which become time-capsules to pass this experience on to future generations. "I work with African political fabrics because they tell the story of the continent's journey to independence, which coincides with the Civil Rights and Black Power struggles here in the US. Several African nations have printed fabrics to commemorate the election of our first black president. These Obama fabrics link our countries' stories together in a way that speaks volumes."
Designed to introduce people to the Story Skirt Project, “The Black President’s Day Exhibition” has two parts. The first part, which will be featured in storefront windows around the neighborhood (on Malcolm X Boulevard between Madison and Fulton Streets), will display collages of African political fabrics, photo portraits of past Story Skirters, actual Story Skirts, and trivia about African political fabrics. Featuring almost a dozen Obama fabrics gathered from across the African continent, this will be one of the largest exhibitions on African political fabrics in the US since the Newark Museum's "In Praise of Heroes" in 1982.
The second aspect to the exhibit is a performance art piece. Aisha will be flooding Malcolm X Blvd with women in Obama skirts so residents can experience what it feels like to live in a place where African political fabrics are used. To do this, she will recruit 44 women who live or work within 1 block of the exhibit to become Story Skirters.
Aisha drew her inspiration for Story Skirts from the works of such nationally recognized artists including Carrie Mae Weems, Teching Hsieh, Marina Abromovic and Paul Chan as well as Dakar, Senegal which she visited as a youth, and the Bedford Stuyvesant community where she resides. She was inspired to create a yearlong performance. Afterwards, she documented it by writing "The Obama Skirt Scores," a series of twelve short performance art scores that capture her experiences over the year. "Become an Obama Skirter" is one of these scores, which inspired Cousins to help other women become Obama Skirters.
“Story Skirters do not have to be pro-Obama,” quips Cousins. “It's an historical project, not a political one. We recently changed the name from Obama Skirts to Story Skirts to emphasize this. We want Afro-American women of all political beliefs, generations, income levels, sexual orientations, and so on, so the documentary can reflect as many different stories as possible.”
Other artists in the Black President’s Day Exhibit include photographers Malik Cumbo, Ja'Tovia Gary, Andrew Green, and Nasilele Holland who took portraits of the 12 original Bed Stuy Obama Skirters, as well as multimedia artist Shani Peters who designed two limited edition Obama fabrics. Peters was co-organizer of last year’s “Black President’s Day Exhibition” which took place in Harlem.
On February 18th, Aisha Cousins will be hosting an artist talk at the Macon branch of the Brooklyn Public Library located at 361 Lewis Avenue.
This project is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council, Inc. (BAC).
For more information about the Black President’s Day exhibit, visit www.BlackPresidentsDay.blogspot.com.
For press inquiries, please contact Tamara Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT AISHA COUSINS
Aisha Cousins is a Brooklyn based artist whose performance art scores have been performed on the streets of historically black neighborhoods in the United States and abroad, as well as inside institutions such as the Museum Of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Houston’s Project Row Houses, and the Kitchen. Her score “How to Listen to Lil Wayne: For Nia, Nya, and Kamaria” is currently on view at MoMA PS1 as a part of “Clifford Owens: Anthology” an abstract compendium of notable black performance artists. Cousins is also a recent recipient of a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs which she has been using to expand the reach of her artwork in the illustrious city. Aisha’s work has been seen on television and in print including notable media outlets including New York’s Daily News, The New York Times and The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Magazine. For more information about Aisha Cousins, visit www.aishacousins.com.
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