As a tribute to Zora Neale Hurston (~1891-1960) who trail blazed representation of African American women in literature and the arts through her life and career, ‘In the Spirit of Zora’ continues Hurston’s legacy by performing her work in a contemporary setting, in collaboration with modern pieces created by members of the campus community.
From Hurston’s time at Barnard, to Brooks 7, to today, ‘In the Spirit of Zora’ portrays the experience of black students in residence at Barnard. Through poetry, dance, song, and theatre, this event explores the multifaceted narratives of students demanding and maintaining their place on campus.
Nadia Naomi didn’t know she’d be making Pink Lemonade.
She is a woman of multiple homes, including East Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. At Barnard, she is an Africana Studies Major with a minor in Dance, which she uses to explore, in a word, ‘blackness’. In addition to using her major and minor to navigate the black political sphere, she uses her art – dance, poetry, and photography – to process the world around her.
Around the time Beyoncé’s groundbreaking Lemonade came out, Nadia went through a breakup which, similar to the subject matter of the visual album resulted from her partner’s infidelity. Nadia saw the music video and began to think about the concept of processing unfaithfulness through art.
A couple of weeks later, with her braids a brilliant pink, she took a selfie and hashtagged it #pinklemonade. In this way, a beautiful project was born.
The project itself is a set of ten pictures, each coupled with a poem. The pictures are set in sequence to the ten stages of recovering from infidelity, and were a means for Nadia to find a new way to be herself.
When asked what her favorite part of the project was, she said “I guess, the organic nature of it.” She never specifically reached out to others to participate (except for the group shoots, which were staged). There were lots of impromptu photography sessions. In fact, some of the photos were taken at a fountain with her friends while they were playing around with a camera.
In terms of challenges, Nadia referenced her vulnerability. She questioned if she really wanted to share this much of herself with the world, and thought carefully about how she’d navigate respectability politics. In addition, real life complications caused an increase in this vulnerability, so her conscious choice to continue with the project seemed to me like an act of bravery and resistance.
What she produced is a beautiful representation of self-love, healing, and forgiveness.
To those who wish to start a similar project, Nadia says, “Start with yourself, don’t worry too much about gathering resources. Talk to others about your ideas and people will gravitate to you.”
Thanks to Nadia for allowing us to share your beautiful work!
If you want to see more of what she’s up to, check out her social media
There’s candlelight and white paint and red wine. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling, and a dozen white tables surround a stage with a mike. The wall behind the stage looks like wallpaper stolen from Gertrude Stein’s salon; another bears an intricate sketch of some white washed wilderness, complete with a cliff and a cave. In the very back, a bartender watches the presidential debate on her phone.