Artwork credit: Nicole Dixon, The Axe Forgets But The Tree Remembers, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist.

About the Exhibition

The Black Woman is God presents The Blueprint: If it can be Imagined it Exists

Now in its fifth iteration at SOMArts Cultural Center, The Black Woman Is God has proven to be a high-level exhibition. It presents lessons in spiritual identity, conveying the black feminine rituals that have developed the structure of the Black Community. These practices encourage diasporic collaboration, which continues to build visual discourse, thus advancing the architecture of Black culture. Therefore, what have Black women artists imagined? What will they imagine for themselves, for their family, for the Community, the future?

Meet the Artists

Abayomi Anli

Abayomi Anli is an artist and educator that currently resides in Oakland, California. She utilizes textiles, mural making, assemblage art, and painting to inquire about African traditional ways of being and visualize Black futures grounded in healing. Abayomi is a member of a Black artist collective called Aerosoul based in West Oakland. She holds a B.A. degree from Mills College in African Decoloniality in Art & History.

Marissa Arterber

Marissa Arterbery’s work is inspired by the spiritual and cultural traditions of the African Diaspora. She paints goddesses who oversee various realms of the spirit and aspects of healing. Many of the deities Marissa paints appear to her in dreams and visions. She paints what she sees, then researches the origins of what she has painted. Marissa’s influences include music and African dance, nature, and the stories of her ancestors. Marissa was born and raised in San Jose, California. She lives and works in Berkeley with her children Sage and Phoenix. 

To learn more about their work please visit marissaarterberry.myportfolio.com

Lorraine Bonner

Lorraine Bonner was born into trauma. To survive she sacrificed her heart and strengthened her mind. Her mind carried her through education and work, and then, halfway through her life, clay slipped into her hands and began to reawaken her heart. Her biography begins anew each day.

To learn more about their work please visit lorrainebonner.com

Zoë Boston

Zoë Boston is an award winning, multifaceted artist who has been creating since youth. Zoë’s inspirations come from God, life, love, music, dance, and more. She’s dedicated to being authentic, which in-turn, transforms her work into visual and sonic waves of passion expressed on walls and canvas, as well as through music and movement. She has exhibited her art at the De Young Museum, has contributed artwork in an Emmy Award Winning documentary, and has had a recent cameo in a documentary featured on CNN.  Zoë continues to push her artistry in new ways that reflect her growth, her drive, and desire to be a vessel that brings more life into this realm.

Asantewaa Boykin

Asantewaa Boykin is an Activist, Author-Poet, and ER Nurse. She is the daughter of Valerie and granddaughter of Bertha and Gladys. Her poetry and writings combine her intense love of words and resistance. Exploring topics like; space-travel, black-femme militancy & motherhood. Asantewaa is co-founder of The Anti Police-Terror Project an organization committed to the eradication of police terror. While her greatest honor is being the mother of her son Ajani, bonus daughter Aryana and granddaughter Lilith. Asantewaa writes: “Continuing the work of our ancestors on behalf of our children is the highest calling one can have.”

To learn more about their work please visit asantewaaboykin.com/

Cynthia Brannvall

Cynthia Brannvall is an art historian and a multimedia artist who teaches art history as a full time faculty member of Foothill Community College. She is a California native of African American and Swedish descent. Cynthia has undergraduate degrees in Art Practice and Art History from UC Berkeley where she was a Phi Beta Kappa and a Ronald E. McNair scholar and was awarded the Departmental Citation for her research in Art History.  She has an MA in Art History from San Francisco State University with an emphasis on Modern and Contemporary art. An advocate and ally for social justice and equity, Cynthia’s artwork explores identity formation envisioned in an imagined deep time terrain of memory, reclamation, and the geographies of forced and voluntary migrations. Her artwork has been selected for juried group exhibitions in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Washington DC.

To learn more about their work please visit cynthiabrannvall.com

Toshia Christal

Toshia Christal is a true loving free spirit who has been producing art since childhood. She is a self taught artist of many forms: photography, installations, painting, drawing and jewelry are to name a few. Graduating from Berkeley high in 2001, Toshia left high school having obtained all the basics she needed to know about her own art. Her love for experimentation, Aesthetics and Devine connection to her guiding light continues to fuel her creativity. Toshia has had art of all kinds placed within various galleries, exhibitions, Eateries, and art shows around the bay area. She currently owns a brick and mortar in Oakland CA at 2911 Fruitvale Ave. This small business houses her salon/ gallery/ boutique and has been obtained for the past 8 years. Most recently, her photography was exhibited in Macy’s SF “Celebrates Pride & Joy ” and in April 2020 she co-curated “Unbound Roots” at SomArts. Toshia Christal’s art is known to be unapologetic, bold, educational, reflective of African traditions or the love she has for the woman figure. The only culprit of chaos for this artist would be created by attempting to make her choose a medium, specialty or by “boxing” her in.

To learn more about their work please visit tchristal.com

Tiffany Conway

Tiffany Conway visual paintings are the break of generational curses and the door to beautiful beginnings. Tiffany overcame stereotypes and an absent mother due to addiction and began speaking life to herself first. Raised in the Bay Area, California by her father and stepmother, Tiffany grew her creativity from life experiences. Seeing the beauty and struggle of the human experience was the driving force behind a new declaration, to see and make visual the beauty and struggle of her experiences. Using her life’s adversity as a creative mechanism, Tiffany cultivated Project Get Free the Coloring Book for Navigating the Diaspora in 2016. This coloring book was a response to song lyrics transformed into a “visual journal”. This was the beginning of a journey of restoration, finding her voice and purpose. While using color as her primary vehicle in terms of language, her work displays the beauty of others, but what lies behind that initial layer are parts of her personal story of evolution. Her mission is to heal women through her paintings by displaying them as seen, soft, and resilient.

To learn more about their work please visit projectgetfree.com

Diamela Cutiño

Diamela Cutiño is a photographer from Havana, Cuba. Her art is known for its unique way of capturing movement, whether social, political, spiritual, or physical. Diamela is most known for her work documenting black culture in Cuba including the Lukumi religion, Hip Hop, and Jazz. Now Diamela lives in the Bay Area documenting the AfroAmerican Womxn history.

To learn more about their work please visit richmondartcenter.org/aotad2021/diamela-cutino/

Paula deJoie

Paula Price deJoie was born and raised in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles and moved to her father’s hometown of Berkeley to attend Cal where she studied Fine Art and Law. Growing up, Paula was blessed to be exposed to a variety of artists from Charles White to Elizabeth Catlett to Nigeria’s Twin Seven Seven and to many other prominent black artists who exhibited in the historic Brockman Gallery run by brothers Alonzo Davis and Dale Davis. Both of her parents created art on the side at home, so she always felt that being an artist was a real and valued career option.As a student in the UC Berkeley Art Department in the 70’s, all of Paula’s professors were white and male. They loved her abstracts and figure drawings, however when she painted political subject matter, they didn’t quite know how to respond. When David Bradford created the Black Art Department and Malaquias Montoya headed up the Chicano Art Center in two redwood shingled buildings off campus, the energy there was welcoming and invigorating, and Paula felt free to express whatever was inside her.Paula recently completed training to lead healing art circles and is focused on providing Elders with Sacred Spaces in which to tell their stories and share their wisdom with pen and brush. Her paintings in this year’s TBWIG are reflective of her healing arts journey.

To learn more about their work please visit pauladejoie.com

Nicole Dixon

Nicole Dixon was born in Oakland, CA and in 2002, received a BA in Studio Art at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. In addition to exhibiting paintings, she has produced commissioned works, and installations for community engagement. She has served as the altar-artist for numerous gatherings, conferences and activist organizations. She is also a Montessori preschool teacher, and firmly believes education and creative expression should go hand-in-hand. She has taught art to youth and adults alike, which has taken her as far as the Kalahari as guest art instructor. Nicole uses art as an interactive medium, and vehicle for self-transformation, community bridge-building, and positive social change. 

To learn more about their work please visit nicoledixon.carbonmade.com

Alise Eastgate

Alise Eastgate is a painter, designer, illustrator, and muralist. Her work explores her experiences, connections to nature and her belief that all living beings deserve the right to live, love and be free. She has exhibited work in solo and group shows in Oakland and San Francisco, including the de Young Museum, and live-painted at events and festivals throughout California and the Fiji Islands.Through their joint project, EastRand Studios, Alise and her life and creative partner Jack Eastgate, have designed and illustrated for artists, activists, and nonprofits and painted murals in Oakland, Sacramento and Fiji.

To learn more about their work please visit aliseeastgate.com

Takiyah Franklin

Oakland native singer, Takiyah Franklin, transforms her life one song at a time. Connecting classic soul with our urgent needs of today, Takiyah shows us how songwriting can be used to impress upon our very reality. She demonstrates how our voices can be used to call forth our dearest desires and fiercest powers. With her latest project of 3 ultra-smooth songs, she conjures into her life (and the life of everyone singing along) familial, romantic and self love. 

To learn more about their work please visit takiyahfranklin.com/

Nimah Gobir

Nimah Gobir is an artist and educator based in Oakland, California. Through paintings and installations, her work explores the nuances and shared experiences of being Black, drawing on text and photo references collected from both family and personal archives. Gobir completed her undergraduate studies at Chapman University with a B.F.A. in Studio Art and B.A. in Peace Studies. She has an M.Ed from Harvard Graduate School of Education with a focus in Arts in Education. She has shown work at ForYourArt, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, The Growlery, and Root Division where she was awarded the Blau-Gold Studio/Teaching fellowship.  Last year, she completed a fellowship with Emerging Artist Professionals SF-Bay Area. Her projects include The Coloring Book, a coloring book of black women that she produced in 2017 and a participatory coloring installation at the Alumni of Color Conference at Harvard Graduate School of Education. In March 2018, Gobir co-created Non-Sterile Art Happenings, a pop-up art exhibition in a UHAUL truck in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

To learn more about their work please visit nimahgobir.com

Bridget Maria Goodman

Bridget Maria Goodman shares, “In my world, terrestrial life is an art form and it’s important that my art convey the eccentricity of my life. It’s a life enveloped in the naturalness of spirituality.” Bridget Maria is inspired by everything, good and not so good, although muses cascade from foundations of love as they move her and through her. Inspired by found objects, objects with a pre-history and vivid energy that call to her in passing. Bridget Maria shares, “God. Nature and trees are the air that I breathe. Jesus is the rock in my internal and eternal universe and I am bound by the stars of the Holy Spirit and all that nature nourishes, 24/7. 365, around the sun. Thus, by the grace of God go I.” This has produced Bridget Maria and underscores her artistic drive and tenaciously binds her to the core condition of human society to express its pains and its wonders, its ugliness and its beauty, its regressions and its progressions. It’s always both, and, always moving.

To learn more about their work please visit vimeo.com/bridgetmariagoodman

Tarika Lewis

Tarika Lewis has often been described as a Renaissance woman.  Visual Artist, Jazz Violinist, teacher and genealogist Ms. Lewis  graduated from Cal State East Bay and the Academy of Art in San Francisco.  Her artwork focuses on African culture, musicians and Black family life.  Ms. Lewis also has also painted a collection of paintings based upon her experiences in the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

To learn more about their work please visit theblackwomanisgod.com/artists/jtlewis

Ajuan Mance

Ajuan Mance is a Professor of English at Mills College in Oakland, California and a lifelong artist and writer. In both her scholarly writing and her visual art, Ajuan explores the complexities of race, gender, and identity. She has shown her work at exhibitions and festivals from the Bay Area to Brooklyn. Ajuan’s illustrations and comics have appeared in several anthologies, including, most recently, Drawing Power, from Abrams Press, winner of the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Anthology; Menopause: A Comic Treatment, winner of the 2021 Eisner Award for Best Anthology; She Votes, from Chronicle Books; COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology, from Penn State University Press, and others. Her work has also appeared in a number of digital and print media outlets, including, most recently, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Women’s Review of Books, Publisher’s Weekly.com, the NewYorkTimes.com, NewYorker.com, and Literature and Medicine.

To learn more about their work please visit AjuanMance.com

Shonna McDaniels

As a working artist in Sacramento for more than 30 years, Shonna McDaniels has become a force to be reckoned with. She has honors from being selected as one of the Wide Open Walls muralists, to being a recipient of a grant from the Black Artist Foundry, to being named as one of Sen. Richard Pan’s “Unsung Heroes”, to being named as the Sacramento Kings Crown Royal “Culture Creator” during Black Artists Month this year, to her most recent achievement – being a recipient of a grant from the Sacramento Office of Arts and Culture in create a community mural – whew! She’s founder of the Sojourner Truth Museum, a museum founded in 1996 which depicts the history of Blacks in the U.S. and features outstanding Black figures from all aspects of American life to serve as a point of pride for the 12,000 youth that have visited the museum. “I’ve been through a lot of trials and tribulations as an African-American artist just not being able to have a seat at the table,” she says. “But I got to do what I wanted to do. My vision came true. I got to have my seat at the table. It was just a very empowering experience.”

To learn more about their work please visit fineartamerica.com/profiles/shonna-mcdaniels

Taylor “Made” Mosley

Taylor “Made” Mosley is an Oakland-born and Bay Area-raised producer whose specialty is making punchy, visceral content that incites audiences to partake and engage with the world. She is interested in creating new narratives in the Black community which centers Black voices and diversity. A content creator for seven years, she has worked with various municipal, non-profit, and artist communities throughout the SF Bay Area. She is now turning to directing and writing screenplays that tell the stories of the people, spaces, and places from her childhood home.

Coco Peila

Coco Peila is a Hip Hop & Afro-Soul/alt-R&B Artist. The MC, singer, songwriter, producer, and cultural organizer has worked with young people for over 15 years developing curriculum & programs and facilitating Rap, Songwriting, & Poetry workshops alongside sharpening her musical craft. While most recently serving as the Director of Hip Hop & Climate Justice at Youth Vs. Apocalypse (YVA), a youth-driven Climate Justice Oakland-based organization, she developed a cutting edge “Hip Hop & Climate Justice” department, organizing framework, and accompanying programming. Her Hip Hop & Climate Justice work has been highlighted at The Kennedy Center, in The New Yorker, as well at Stanford and Yale. She and collaborator Hazel Rose branched out of The Bay in 2020 to work with Variety Magazine & The African American Film Critics Association to develop & launch The Micheaux Project curriculum (now in its third iteration) for African American students at LA’s renowned L.A.C.E.S. academy.

To learn more about their work please visit cocopeila.com

Lakiba Pittman

Lakiba Pittman is an educator and creative artist. She is a Lecturer at Menlo College and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in Consciousness, Spirituality, and Integrated Health. Her first book, Bread Crumbs from the Soul – Finding Your Way Back Home, features her original art, poetry and autobiographical reflections. She has recorded with John Santos & the Machete Ensemble, the Sons & Daughters of Lite, and was a featured dancer and singer with Malonga Casquelourd’s Congolese Music and Dance Ensemble, “Fua Dia Congo.” Lakiba also performed at the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement with the Poet’s Choir & Arkestra. In 2020, Lakiba was a featured healer presenting “Medicine for Self-Care, Love and Acceptance,” for Street Dance Activism for Global Dance Meditation for Black Liberation. She was also an Invited Oral Historian for the Institute for Diversity in the Arts for Stanford’s University Committee on Black Performing Arts. Lakiba was a featured poet for the Kickoff of the Poet Open Mic Series for the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. She is a senior certified instructor and facilitator of workshops with Stanford’s Center for Compassion & Altruism Research & Education, The Compassion Institute, and Healing Together. Her art has been featured in The Black Woman is God art exhibits held at SOMArts, and the African American Art & Culture Complex; both in San Francisco, California. During 2021, she was also one of the artists featured in the LaLuSa Online Gallery.

To learn more about their work please visit instagram.com/alightwithin/

Karen Seneferu

Karen Seneferu is a mix media artist whose work challenges the idea that beauty exists outside of one’s cultural reality. Her work has been exhibited at the Oakland Museum, The California African American Museum, Yerba Buena Center, Skirball Museum, Tuft’s University Museum, and MOAD. Seneferu is also the founder and Artistic Director of the exhibit The Black Woman Is God, which has changed the artistic and cultural landscape of California art.

To learn more about their work please visit openspace.sfmoma.org/2018/09/karen-seneferus-definition-of-love/

Mimi Tempestt

Mimi Tempestt (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and daughter of California. She has a MA in Literature from Mills College, and is currently a doctoral student in the Creative/Critical PhD in Literature at UC Santa Cruz. Her first book, the monumental misrememberings, is published with Co-Conspirator Press//The Feminist Center for Creative Work (2020). She was chosen as a finalist in the Creative Nonfiction Prize for Indiana Review in 2020, and is a creative fellow at The Ruby in San Francisco. She was selected for participation in the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices & writers in 2021. Her works can be found in Foglifter, Apogee Journal, Interim Poetics, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

To learn more about their work please visit spark.adobe.com/page/pPXmIBhFr2Fer/

karin turner – karinsArt

KarinsArt takes HerJOY seriously, Yours too! Her art  is all about JOY! Having it, getting it, feeling it, Sharing it! Her artwork is a vehicle that conveys a positive message that requires introspection rather than an outward revolution. Her JOYful images feature a self biographical woman with natural hair, curves & watermelon. She incorporates  bright colors, feminine beauty and strength with suggestive titles and words that urge the viewer to be in their own Life! The watermelon is a metaphor for life! Some days are good- really good and some are not, but we have to actively participate in our lives to live abundantly. Crack Open the melon! Now more than ever, there is a universal need for this abundantly buoyant practice of JOY. Particularly, amongst people of color. KarinsArt takes HerJoy seriously, Yours too! 

 

To learn more about their work please visit llinktr.ee/karinsart