Exhibit Opening & Reception: "she was here, once"


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photo of 8 women wearing large wool masks
Nastassja E. Swift, artist
Event Date: 
February 25, 2019
Event Time: 
6:00pm to 7:30pm
Lane Hall Gallery
Event Accessibility : 
Ramp and elevator access at the E. Washington Street entrance (by the loading dock). There are accessible restrooms on the south end of Lane Hall, on each floor of the building. A gender neutral restroom is available on the first floor.
photo of 8 women wearing large wool masks

Join artist Nastassja Swift to celebrate the official opening of her solo exhibition, she was here, once, in the Lane Hall Gallery.

This reception is presented in collaboration with the Narrating Black Girls' Lives Conference. Book sales and signing with keynote speaker, Dr. Saidiya Hartman will also take place during this reception. Book sales provided by Bookbound.

about the exhibition:

The mobility and displacement of the Black body, from port to holding cell, to ward and out, is a history that is embedded in our communities socially, culturally and geographically. Alluding to feelings of pain, otherness, power and triumph, she was here, once features work that illustrates a moment of remembrance and reflection on the women who have roamed these spaces before us. Consisting of wearable fiber sculptures, mixed media installation and film, the exhibition traces the ancestral footsteps of the Black woman in Richmond, Virginia. Nastassja creates an immersive environment shaped from history, story and experience.

project background: 

In summer 2018, Nastassja Swift organized a collaborative project that analyzes the history of the black female body in Richmond, and navigates the stories and identities of the women before us, the stories of the present, and how they affect our tomorrows. Through a communal workshop and collaborative public performance, Nastassja engaged black female residents of varying ages, within Richmond communities, in a project infused with dance, sound and visual narrative that took place in Shockoe Bottom and Jackson Ward. Eight women and girls, dressed in white garments, wore a large, needle felted white wool mask and traveled by foot from the Trail of Enslaved Africans, and ended on Leigh Street in the Jackson Ward neighborhood.

The project has produced a mini documentary and short film. Both films are on display in the University of Michigan's Lane Hall Gallery until August 2, 2019.

about the artist:

Nastassja Swift is a Virginia artist holding a Bachelors degree of Fine Art from Virginia Commonwealth University with a major in Painting & Printmaking and a minor in Craft & Material Studies. She is the owner and artist of D for Dolls, an online collection of handmade needle felted figures. Outside of being a doll maker, she works with paint, print, performance and fiber within her studio practice. Nastassja’s work is currently on display in a group exhibition at The Colored Girls Museum, and her solo exhibition at Harmony Hall Arts Center.  She has participated in several national and international residences and exhibitions, including her solo exhibit in Doha, Qatar, and fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center and MASS MoCA. www.nastassjaswift.com

video trailer:

Trailer : Remembering Her Homecoming from Nastassja Swift on Vimeo.

Cosponsors: The Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, Center for the Education of Women+, Stamps School of Art & Design, American Culture, English, History, History of Art, Institute for Research on Women & Gender (IRWG), Rackham Graduate School, and Women's Studies.

Work in this exhibition has been supported by the Culture Works Grant Program.