Artwork > Soft is Strong

( to reconcile the sky&ground )

the body,
like time,
unfixed

a clearing
a queering
a shadowed fullness
a black grace

( how do you conjure flight? )

a freedom dream
a witnessing

repair
reparate
respirate

this ballet of enunciation, breakbeat of
meaning, boombap of the tongue

what was static, loosed
become elastic, porous

new cartographies of gaps
out of which
seeps
black
light

how we spin jewels from terror
how we spinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

threads taken apart to be re-stitched together
what was separate, joined -

to stretch so taut but never break

this bridge called my back
a ladder called me back

time’s weave and weft
the heft

footsteps ascending ;

the people could fly
the people do fly

the earth’s heartbeat remixed ;

a conjured song -
that
soft
be
strong.

- Miatta Kawinzi


Miatta Kawinzi: Soft is Strong
Solo exhibition at CUE Art Foundation, NYC
Curator-Mentor: Ronny Quevedo
8 April - 12 May, 2021


This body of work meditates on the relationships between softness, fragility, strength, and the African diasporic condition of fragmentation as a site of possibility rather than lack. Informed by my hybrid cultural background - born to a Liberian mother and Kenyan father and raised in the US South - motifs of doubling appear throughout and explore cultural, social, and emotional dualities and multiplicities. The work is rooted in an experimentation with language that is in conversation with concrete poetry and the Black feminist literary tradition in exploration of a poetics of liberation. These works both hold space for historical and contemporary loss and probe at the potential for regeneration and renewal. Here I am interested in the reparative potential of softness to hold us through the tumult, over the fissures; scattered seeds a cartography of continuance.

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Special Thanks
Infinite gratitude to the Creator and the Ancestors always. Immense thanks to my Mama & family, my communities and our necessary way of holding each other up, the entire amazing CUE team, Ronny Quevedo, Adeola Olakiitan, ray ferreira, Erik Patton, Michael Blake, Kiyan Williams, Jamal Jordan, Francheska Alcantara, kara lynch, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Opeyemi Olukemi, POV Spark, Barbara Hammer, Queer|Art, the Bemis Center, Red Bull Arts, Alfred University’s Institute for Electronic Arts, Integrated Digital Media at NYU, NMAAHC, Nikki Giovanni, Toni Morrison, all the dreamers & magicians throughout the Diaspora forging freedom and finding flight: known and unknown, then and now and beyond - & to everyone spending time with this work. I give thanks.

Thanks to CUE Art Foundation for the incredible opportunity.

SHE GATHER ME received support from the Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant administered by Queer|Art.

All photographs are by the artist unless otherwise noted.

Exhibition Website
Exhibition Catalogue
Exhibition Video Walk-Through
Exhibition Artist & Curator-Mentor Talk