In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, We Made Armor, curated by Mahari Kathleen Chabwera, is a sanctuary site for Black womxn to honor our ancestors, indulge in our glory, and digest the complexity of Black symbology through installations, photographs, drawings and sculptures. We are giving gratitude to the women who “literally covered the holes in our walls with sunflowers.” (Alice Walker) We are decolonizing our minds, and tuning ourselves to our inner knowing. Like Audre Lorde before us, we are “less willing to accept powerlessness, self-denial, self-effacement, resignation or those other supplied states of being which are not native to us.” We strive towards creative sustenance as self-affirmation. As a self-soothing salve in Richmond, Virginia; a city whose historically predatory practices have never been appropriately acknowledged or amended. On the 400th year anniversary of the first African peoples’ being forced to this land, we take our healing into our own hands.
In the collection of essays that serve as the namesake for this exhibition, Alice Walker teaches us that our mothers, and grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, “handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see.” We’re learning the rhythms of the seasons they knew, and guarding ourselves against the ancient parasites that tried to eviscerate their gardens. We’re taking our protection into our own hands. We’re molding objects and spaces, pulling images and ideas that are non-physical and unrealized from our minds and souls, and making them real. We’re reminding ourselves and our community of who we are. This is our tradition; liberatory magic medicine-making. We give gratitude to the women who planted the seeds of our blooming when the whirlwind blocked both the sun and the rain. This is for us. We are the vindication for immeasurable dreams deferred.
Exhibiting Artists : Ricky Weaver, Taylor Simone, Nastassja Swift, Christa Pratt, Abigail Lucien, & Mahari Chabwera. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, We Made Armor was curated by Mahari Chabwera and supported in part with her 2019- 2020 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship.
Evolution of the Sacred Self is a 2 person project curated by Dr. Lauranett Lee, Lora Beldon, Mahari Chabwera, and Micah Davis Scott. Participating artists : Micah and Mahari.
The exhibition included 9 paintings by Mahari, 1 drawing from her Negromancy series, 2 wall murals and an ofrenda to her ancestors and guides.