To Imagine a Form of Life is a four-part virtual class exploring memory work and lesbian poetics. The program is organized by DC-based curator and writer Fabiola Ching alongside her collaborators from Hermetic State, a literary hub for black lesbians. Through hands-on workshops and language exercises, they pose questions about the ways we learn about survival and bodily excavation; whose movements of love did our bodies learn to mimic?
The class includes original writing and workshops by Oreoluwa Akinyode, Mayah Lovell, Fabiola Ching, and Adaeze Okere and is inspired by Afronowism theory, black lesbian esoterics, and the work of June Jordan. Graphic illustrations are by Saizami Tripathi.
The digital zine is published on Are.na and can be accessed here.
This class will explore the uses of imagery, unorthodox word pairing, elocution, and punctuation as a method of creating language and definitions yet unearthed. Fabiola Ching will share examples from authors such as Laurie Weeks, Pamela Sneed, Eileen Myles, as well as TV shows and films to illustrate the ways we can dramatically communicate memories and stories. Through this course, she hopes to collectively encourage writing to be dreamlike, scary, thick, and most importantly, true.
Storyteller and archivist Oreoluwa Akinyode will lead this workshop on crafting letters and poetry in order to nurture the younger versions of ourselves. They hope to create a bridge where we can pour love into all versions of ourselves that need(ed) love.
Led by artist and writer Mayah Lovell, this workshop will explore the integration of the body and the poetics of erotica writing. It will include a body scan, a reading, and a guided writing session. Attendees will also receive a folder of writing excerpts. The outcomes of the class are to use erotica to create new memories for the body to hold onto.
Led by sculptor and writer Adaeze Okere, participants will create their own sensory maps using common household items and the corresponding memories that they elicit. By mapping their emotions, the hope is that participants can begin to unravel dormant impressions and memories.
About the Participants
Oreoluwa Akinyode is a living breathing archive of life, death, and beyond. Oreoluwa tells stories, preserves stories, and cares for stories. With the use of images, moving images, and words Oreoluwa aims to craft worlds where their multitudes have a place to love, cry, and feeeeel. One of Oreoluwa’s main goals is to encourage other black gender-expansive youth to archive their lives, their loved ones, and to be their own archivist. To be the holder of you and your loved ones archives is to care for your existence beyond life and death.
Fabiola Ching is a literary curator and writer researching playful and lavish methods of publishing and communicating around literature. Their practice is guided by curiosity regarding what we have been taught; asking questions such as how can literature be used as a method of rest and enjoyment? What methods of learning and showing love have we not dreamed of yet? Inspired by Afro-nowism theory and their lifestyle as a black lesbian poet, Fabiola writes and curates programming aimed at exploring the ways that storytelling can translate to communal care and liberation within our current ecologies.
Mayah Lovell is a black lesbian latinx from suburban-area DC. Her artistic studies are synthesized by moiling essence through materials such as 2D visual arts, 3D structures, performance, and prose-poetry. The multidimensional planes of her work reveals the fluidity and vulnerability of lesbianism. These intimacies beckons the psyche of neo-erotica, computation, reclamation of science fiction paradigms, and African spiritualities as transformative resolutions. Lovell’s work is published both online and in print, including a self published chapbook. She has exhibited and performed in Baltimore, Connecticut, DC, and Philadelphia.
Adaeze Okere is a sculptor and writer from Prince George's County, MD, now based in Detroit. Her practice centers around social etiquette in the digital realm as it relates to power hierarchies. Adaeze is especially interested in memes as material, believing that they are a crucial vehicle for understanding and reflecting collective psyches.
WPA is supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Hickok Cole; the National Endowment for the Arts through the Visual Arts Division; William S. Paley Foundation; Greater Washington Community Foundation; Goethe-Institut; Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation; JBG SMITH; and many other generous foundations, corporations, and individuals.
January 29–March 19, 2022