Sheila Pree Bright Mothers March On

The Sankofa Project

June 2, 2023 – September 17, 2023 Main Street Windows

About the Exhibition

Mothers March On photographic project is about Black women who have witnessed the tragic loss of their children who have fallen to police brutality. The pain of losing a child to senseless violence is unimaginable, yet this is the reality that too many Black mothers face in our communities. Historically, Black women have been the backbone of their families, communities, and movements, often carrying the world’s weight on their shoulders. As a Black woman in America, I recognize the systemic oppression that has historically affected us. Our gender and race have made us more vulnerable to discrimination and violence.

“This project pays homage to the sacrifices, wisdom, and guidance of Black mothers as nurturers and protectors who are passing on a legacy of determination and love showing how they are fierce and tender, protective and vulnerable, and strong and soft. I’m honoring the struggles of Black mothers celebrating the beauty of their strength and resilience. These mothers continue to march on for Human rights for their children to bring attention to the urgent need for police reform and the systemic racism that continues to fuel police brutality against Black bodies since slavery.

“In my artistic practice, I aim to shed light on the complexities of our struggle and amplify our voices and stories, often ignored or silenced, to create art through the lens of the Black gaze to challenge the social constructs that perpetuate the marginalization of Black women by creating a space for dialogue and reflection on how Black women have been and continue to be oppressed in America. Hopefully, we can work towards a more just and equitable society by acknowledging and confronting these issues.” – Sheila Pree Bright

Image: Sheila Pree Bright, 2019 Mothers March On, Archival pigment print, 72” x 55”

About the Artist

Sheila  Pree  Bright  is  a  photographer  and  activist‐artist  who  continues  to  express herself through the visual experience.  She makes engaging photographs and creates provocative installations while creating a series of critical images of what it means to be an American.  For Pree Bright her creativity is part of a collaborative process.  She contextualizes the voices of young protesters by weaving their words and faces into  her  portraits.    She  brings  the  same  passion  to  her  documentation  of today’s social protest movements from Atlanta, Baltimore, and Ferguson to Washington, DC as did her predecessors who made photographs in the 1960s civil rights protests for equal rights.  From the right to free speech to the desire to have a sound education to a right to fair housing opportunities, she champions the right of all Americans to a full participation in  the American democratic process.   It is encouraging  to see  the work  of  Pree  Bright  connect  photographs  to  this  memory,  hence  the  title  of  her series 1960Now!

About The Sankofa Project

Curated by Tierney L. Malone, The Sankofa Project is a multi-year examination of the historical events leading up to our current moment of social unrest and racial reckoning. Beginning with the people and stories that make up our own communities of Houston, this project aims to bring light to the events that have been censored or ignored in historical narratives in order to reinforce the racial oppression of Black Americans.

The Sankofa Project will commission three artists annually to create and present new work that is reflective of their own experience in contemporary America and related to the work of scholars and historians who are leading conversations on race and inequality. The artists’ work will be presented in Lawndale’s east-facing windows on Main Street and accompanied by a podcast and public program to inspire dialogue within our community.

“Sankofa” is the Ghanaian word most commonly translated as “one must acknowledge the past in order to move forward.” Thus, in The Sankofa Project, Malone brings together artists and our community to reflect upon the past, reminding us of the power of art to serve not only as the language of humanity but also its catalyst for change.

About the Curator

Tierney L. Malone is a visual artist and modern day storyteller who uses the canon of African-American history and pop culture to create mixed media works that challenge contemporary culture and politics.

Malone has exhibited his art widely throughout Texas and the United States, including numerous solo exhibitions. His works are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Kansas City Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Missouri; Goldman Sachs, New York, New York; and the Federal Reserve Bank, Houston, Texas. He is the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant, a CACHH Visual Artist Grant, and a Kimbrough Visual Artist Grant.

Collaboration with the jazz community is also at the forefront of Malone’s practice, including commissions to create the jacket covers for jazz musician Don Byron’s 1999 CD, Romance of the Unseen, on the Blue Note Label and for jazz pianist Randy Weston’s 2003 performance at the Miller Outdoor Theater. In 2008, Malone completed two jazz-related major commissions: a limited edition print celebrating Da Camera of Houston’s 20th Anniversary and an outdoor mural entitled “Southern Sounds” for the Coleman Art Center in York, Alabama. Additionally, Malone is the creator of the Jazz Church of Houston and the host of the Houston Jazz Spotlight on 90.1 KPFT, both of which recognize and preserve Houston’s remarkable contribution to the musical genre of Jazz.

Born in Los Angeles and based in Houston’s historic Third Ward, Malone was raised in Mississippi and Alabama and considers himself a Southern Seed.