Drawing upon divination practices from chess strategy, archetypal mythologies, and African diasporic traditions, Angela Hennessy’s As I Live and Breathe is compelled by the impulse to look up at the stars; to read the skies for origin and orientation.
The exhibition title is a statement of testimony from the position of a material witness while simultaneously invoking the body of the witness—living and breathing, therefore a challenge to notions of assumed neutrality.
Through her use of material and activation of space, Angela Hennessy offers us a new prism to examine our relationship to death and life, the celestial and the mundane, and all that exists in between. We are asked, “How does our understanding of mortality, specifically as Black, Indigenous, people of color, shape the way we move through the world? What does it mean to practice both surrender and agency?”
About Angela Hennessy
Angela Hennessy is an Oakland based artist and founder of See Black Womxn. She is an Associate Professor at California College of the Arts where teaches courses on visual and cultural narratives of death and textile theory. Through writing, studio work, and performance, her practice questions assumptions about Death and the Dead themselves. She uses a spectrum of color and other phenomena of light to expose mythologies of identity. Ephemeral and celestial forms constructed with every day gestures of domestic labor—washing, wrapping, stitching, weaving, brushing, and braiding.
In 2015, she survived a gunshot wound while interrupting a violent assault on the street in front of her house. Her manifesto, The School of the Dead, was written in the following months of recovery. Alternating between poem, prayer, and call to action, The School of the Dead is in development as an educational program for aesthetic and social practices that mediate the boundary between the living and the dead. She lectures and teaches workshops nationally.
As a hospice volunteer, she has worked with families on home funerals, death vigils, and grief rituals. She is certified in the Grief Recovery Method and trained with Final Passages and the International End of Life Doula Association. She serves on the advisory boards of Recompose and DeathSalon.
Her work has been featured in Sculpture Magazine, The New Yorker, Nat Brut, Surface Design Journal, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture and in exhibitions at Pt. 2 Gallery, Museum of the African Diaspora, and Southern Exposure. She has upcoming exhibitions at Contemporary Jewish Museum, Palo Alto Art Center, San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and the Oakland Museum of California and recently participated in Facebook AIR program and the Mesa Refuge Writer’s Residency. She is a 2019 San Francisco Artadia Award winner and recipient of the 2021 Joan Mitchell Fellowship.
Learn more about Angela Hennessy
SOMArts is closed to the public 30 minutes each day for maintenance
12:00–2:00 PM, 2:30–5:00 PM
3:00–5:00 PM, 5:30–7:30 PM
Photography courtesy of Jalen Hennessy