The Church of Black Feminist Thought is an effort to share citations in more accessible ways. To surface all the hidden labor done by black feminist artists, scholars, and writers. While much of our academic work is suspended in long publishing timelines and hard-to-decipher language, we believe that bringing the words of black feminist thinkers into conversation in physical space, then translating our collective ruminations into visual storytelling and illustration will nourish and support many. We are most excited about this project because it lives at the intersection of gender, race, critical theory and visual art.
Since January 2018 we have been meeting monthly in Berkeley and Oakland (currently at Ashara Ekundayo Gallery) with an intergenerational group of artists committed to being in rigorous, intimate relationships with the work of black feminist writers and artists. We have discussed at length the works of Octavia Butler, Hortense Spillers, Saidiya Hartman, Toni Morrison, Nina Simone, Ula Y. Taylor, Ntozake Shange, local artist Amara T. Smith, The Beautiful Being Project (Europa Grace & Arisa White), Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and Patricia Hill Collins.
How do we express what is felt at a gathering? How do we honor the meaning created between words? And how do we celebrate black feminist thinkers in ways that amplify their work to everyone? These are some of the questions that the visual theory maps begin to answer. We believe that our theory maps activate a more imaginative way to access learning that nourishes the spirit. The counter-imaginations and strategies for how to thrive in our minds, bodies, and spirits are thus shared in a format that opens up to living with theory/knowledge/wisdom, rather than mastering it.
Black Feminist Study Atlas
In preparation for each month, we (Miyuki and Malika) generate a portrait of the thinker and a written invocation. During the gatherings, we provide local artists a space to reflect on sources and themes that may enrich their personal projects along with strengthening a collective sense of intellectual community. Our intended audience encompasses and extends this community of artists, thinkers, and learners. We hope that the publication of our culminating Theory Atlas (pre-order a copy above) will allow the magic of our convenings to reach even more artists and that they might be used as a teaching tool that broadens the canon of Black Feminist Thought while exploring the potentiality of the intersection of visual art and critical theory.