Homemade, with Love: More Living Room

Thursday, Aug 27, 2020 – Jul 3, 2021

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College of Fine and Applied Arts
500 E Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820

What would it mean to co-create and be in a homemade space of interior worldmaking imagined for and with Black girls, women, and femmes as part of their everyday creative livelihoods?

Homemade, with Love: More Living Room is a multimedia installation that brings together interior design, audio and visual art made with Black girls. The exhibition seeks to merge local, national and global critical arts engagement with Black girls to curate a homemade space that centers Black girls’ creativity, design, and lived experience.

Homemade draws on concepts from Black feminist thought and women artists who critically engage ideas and practices of home and world making, poetics of relation, collective genius, and Black interiority. Black playwright and author, J. California Cooper explains in her author’s notes of her collection of stories, Homemade Love,

“I choose the name homemade love because it is love that is not bought, not wrapped in fancy packaging with glib lines that often lie...Is usually done from the bottom up, with care, forethought, planning, and consideration for others….Homemade goes a long way. Usually lasts longer than we do.”

Cooper’s clear conviction about homemade love’s look, feel, smell, and being inspires this exhibition. It wants to uncover creative genealogies of imagining and making more just home(s), world(s), and future(s) for Black girls and women that last longer than we do. Homemaking as a practice of Black girlhood and feminism is centermost in this context, a practice that considers domesticity, the sensual, and space-making attuned to building coalitions and critical celebration across difference. Homemade, with Love: More Living Room wants to make a museum space that Black girls might see as theirs to take up and make more room to be themselves.

The exhibition will start with installation of artwork made during Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truth’s (SOLHOT) sessions locally at Urbana and Franklin Middle Schools. These works include collage, photography, and visual aesthetics that speak to Black girlhood as a collective space-making endeavor with Black girls.

Homemade will also include a portion of Unheard Sounds, Come Through, an evolving installation by St. Louis-based artist Jen Everett to further explore creative and collective makings of home, and the production and transmission of Black knowledge. Everett explores Black interiority, art, and design through gestures of collection and arrangement, including speakers, projectors, slide carousels, transistor radios, and other objects that contain or emit sounds, texts, or images. 

In addition to SOLHOT’s visual art and Everett’s sculpture, the installation will utilize artwork by Black women in Krannert Art Museum’s collection with works by Black women artists in Krannert Art Museum’s collection, including Carrie Mae Weems, Margo Humphry, and Doris Derby to design a Black interior space specific to Black girls, women, and femmes. These works will be installed to represent Black photography and other artwork you might see in Black homes and curated spaces for love, celebration and organizing.

Homemade will include furniture and interior design that consider the ways Black girls, women, and femmes have curated interior space and reimagine a home and world that is just. The exhibition will also include film work on view in conversation with Black girlhood, feminism, space and homemaking by the curator and selected Black girl artists.

Artists featured in Homemade visualize and sound Black everyday life, celebration, and interiority with Black girlhood and feminist poetics, art, and collective care in mind. This exhibition challenges us to demand and co-create just worlds of celebration made and created by and for Black girls, women, and femmes.

Curated by Blair Ebony Smith, DRIVE Postdoctoral Fellow in Art Education