CAPE at MMA Unveils Artist Peters' Project on Farish Street
Mississippi Museum of Art’s (MMA) Center for Art and Public Exchange (CAPE) unveiled the final project from 2021 national artist-in-residence Shani Peters.
Collective Care Companion for Black Life is a publication and installation on the 200 block of Farish Street promoting self-care and honoring Black mothers and caretakers in Jackson.
During her year-long residency, Peters - a multidisciplinary artist based in New Orleans - built relationships with local Jackson caretakers, women who not only support their families but also support the community through their careers. Through remote, individually experienced care packages and questionnaires, the group focused on the best ways to self-sustain to effectively care for their families and communities.
“We know the burden that Black women carry in society,” said Peters. “Through the violence and suffering that is constantly endured, women always take on the role of caregiver. This project centers on how to navigate the particularities of Black life to minimize our pain and to multiply our joy.”
Findings from the care packages and questionnaires make up the Collective Care Companion for Black Life. Containing meditations, grounding lessons, and yoga sessions, this publication serves as a practical, day-to-day resource to all BIPOC residences of Jackson and beyond.
On 42 windows along the 200 block of Farish Street, panels will display this companion piece, allowing viewers to read the book as they walk by.
Mississippi Museum of Art Chief Curator and CAPE Artistic Director Ryan Dennis said, “Shani Peters started her project with research revealing the Black population in the U.S. ranks among the lowest across indicators of well-being including health, wealth, and numerous other categories. Mississippi’s Black population consistently ranks among the most vulnerable and underserved in the nation. We are pleased to have her final project on display in such a prominent area of Jackson to further community learnings and conversations.”
Incorporating aspects of her multi-faceted community-based practice, Peters’ project-based, collaborative work considers painful truths and creates opportunities for collective momentum toward learning, wisdom sharing, and community exchange. Her process is informed by her lived experience and in-depth research as she examines the politics of shared society to reveal individual and community approaches to managing the weights on and demands of Black mothers and caretakers.
The components of Peters’ project are as follows:
Collective Care Packages & Questionnaires
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Peters began with a core group of eight community caretakers in Jackson. It was important that they not only support their families but also work in the capacity of supporting the community. Included in this group were representatives of Cooperative Community of New West Jackson, Greater Jackson Arts Council, Mothers Obtaining Justice and Opportunity, and People’s Advocacy Institute. Peters developed remote, individually experienced care packages that included a yoga mat and instructional video, massage therapy, jewelry workshop, books, and teas. After recipients spent time with these things, they were then asked to complete a questionnaire about care and sustenance. Advice from this richly experienced group on survival, healing, and self-love influenced Collective Care Companion for Black Life.
Culminating Form: Collective Care Companion for Black Life
Once the questionnaires were complete, Peters provided artistic direction to Studio Design Apprentices from New Orleans-based The Black School (TBS), where she is a co-director. The caretakers’ words of advice were transformed into a best practices publication, along with a compelling installation on the 200-block of Farish Street. These pieces were designed to communicate the accumulated wisdom of Black mothers and caretakers for wider community benefit. The young designers from TBS learned more about the legacy and ongoing role of art and design in Black radical histories and how to transfer their knowledge directly to their peers.
Rise, Set, Rise Again
Unifying all elements of the project is a guiding concept and aesthetic of Peters’ wider practice: a consideration of the balance and relationship between cycles of Black activism and the natural world, namely solar cycles. While we rise, settle into daily routines, and set, Black Americans must wake each day to resist the oppression of post-colonial conditions. While the project is rooted in the consideration and reversal of injustice and trauma, its components strike a balance that ensures participants are always met with compassion and encounter joy, beauty, and the power of art and community. This concept is illustrated by a quilt book [?], originally done by Peters as a meditation guide on breathing practices as the sun rises and sets.
The Mississippi Museum of Art and Peters would like to give a special thank you to our local partners that provided items for the care packages:
Diamond Rodgers, Yoga Instructor
Foot Print Farms
Kenyah Williams, Yoga Instructor
Mama Nature’s Juice Bar
Risk & Rewards Video Production
Magnolia Sunset Markets
Afghams by Aftan
Alexis Cee, Graphic Design
Lofton & Co.
Soft Water Soap Co.
Thee Black Card
Urthly Kreations Apothecary