The Pauli Murray Residency for Art and Racial Justice, a partnership of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, Eaton DC, and STABLE Arts, presents 2023’s Artist-in-Residence Seema Reza. Throughout spring 2023, the artist has been supported by all three organizations as she researched and developed a new body of multimedia and performance. The resulting work, titled “Light Multiplies: Healing Upstream,” will be exhibited at Eaton DC in Washington, D.C. April 28 to May 31.
From March 1 to May 31, Reza will be part of the community of resident artists at STABLE Arts in Eckington, where she has been provided private studio space to develop this new body of work. "Light Multiplies" is informed by personal experience and over a decade of community-based grief and trauma work across military, incarcerated, addiction disordered, and displaced populations. The exhibition makes use of kinetic text, digital projection, and portraits on glass to create a space of intergenerational healing. Drawing inspiration from ‘eusocial’ matrilineal mammal populations, Reza invites audiences to claim the right to safe and healthy emotional environments for themselves, for their immediate ancestors, and for those in their care. The exhibition highlights the urgency of intergenerational healing and affirms the capacity of communities of color to create and uphold rituals designed to multiply their own light.
“I want to think about a ritual to carry our mothers’ light forward and lay their pain to gentle rest,” Reza says. “I come back and back and back to Bhanu Kapil’s question: Who was responsible for the suffering of your mother? For many of us (all of us?) whose mothers were women living inside of a patriarchal, capitalist, racist structure, much of our mothers’ suffering came from far outside of themselves—from systems that starved and drowned them/their mothers, that did not believe them, did not value them, did not assign any weight to their pain, did not prepare them for us.”
Launched in 2021, the Pauli Murray Residency for Art and Racial Justice is an annual collaboration between Eaton DC, STABLE Arts and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center. The residency supports artist-activists from the DMV region and beyond, offering them space and time to work on existing or forthcoming projects at the intersections of race, equity and social justice. The residency benefits from the expertise and support of American University faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences’ Departments of Studio Arts and Performing Arts and Creative Writing Program, as well as the School of Communication’s Division of Film and Media Studies.
"We are thrilled to welcome Seema as the 2023 Pauli Murray Art and Racial Justice Fellow," said Kayleigh Bryant-Greenwell, associate director of outreach and operations with the Antiracist Research and Policy Center. “Her project reflects the ethos of intersectional justice that embodies our work at ARPC and the spirit of our partnership with Eaton and STABLE.”
At American University on Thursday April 20, Reza will be participating in a moderated discussion about her work that is free and open to the public. Reza’s multimedia exhibition “Light Multiplies: Healing Upstream” opens at 7 p.m. on April 28 at Eaton DC, 1201 K St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20005. In this exhibition debut and performance, also free and open to the public, Reza will lead audiences through rituals both personal and communal. The exhibition will remain on view at Eaton’s Living Room through May 31.
About Seema Reza:
Seema Reza is a poet, performer, curator, and community builder. She is the author of "A Constellation of Half-Lives" and “When the World Breaks Open” and the founder of Community Building Art Works, an organization that uses the arts to create healing communities for thousands of people impacted by war, trauma, and grief. Her work has been anthologized and featured in "The LA Review of Books," “LitHub,” "The Washington Post," among other publications. Reza’s work with service members was featured in the 2017 HBO Documentary “We Are Not Done Yet.”
About the Pauli Murray Residency for Art and Racial Justice:
Named for the radical/revolutionary queer Black Civil Rights lawyer, activist, and poet Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray, the Pauli Murray Residency for Art and Racial Justice is a collaboration of Eaton DC, STABLE Arts, and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. The residency supports artist-activists from the DMV region and beyond, offering them space and time to work on existing or forthcoming projects at the intersections of race, equity, and justice. Exhibition, event, and working space will be provided by Eaton DC, STABLE Arts, and American University.