Invisible No More
For the past 5 years, “Invisible No More” has highlighted the plight of black women and girls, through a thoughtful and carefully curated art exhibition that runs throughout the month of March in St. Louis, MO. Inspired by the tragic stories of Phoenix Coldon and Anna Brown, “Invisible No More” commissions art from local emerging artists, drawing on the expertise and experience of black women through discussions and lectures, seeks to address two critical issues.
On the one hand, black women and girls are conditioned to believe that their place is one of invisibility, thus enduring, ignoring, and hiding their pain and trauma. The impact is a near deafening silence from black women, as well as the media, about our own oppression and lack of well-being. On the other hand, the culture we all live in shapes our ideology, permits us to treat black women with a low regard for their lives and humanity. The exhibit shines light on the marginalization, brutalization, and erasure of black women and our stories.
Phoenix went missing December 18, 2011; police conducted a short investigation that was careless and led to no leads. Phoenix has not been seen since. Anna Brown was left for dead in a local jail cell after being denied help for pain. According to the St Louis Post Dispatch, “an autopsy later revealed, [she was] dying from blood clots that started in her legs, then lodged in her lungs. She told officers she couldn't get out of the police car, so they dragged her by her arms into the station. They left her lying on the concrete floor of a jail cell, moaning and struggling to breathe. Just 15 minutes later, a jail worker found her cold to the touch.”
While recent social media postings would lead us to think that black women are valued and appreciated for the ways in which they help to shape this country, i.e. the “victory” of Alabama, the stories of Phoenix and Anna prove otherwise, reminding us that black women’s lives do not yet matter.
Invisible No More is not just an art exhibition it is a campaign, a movement of sorts that provides a platform to give voice to our stories. It is a space for artists to explore what that looks like. The art selected is intentional and on purpose. In addition to the elements or art and lecture there is also a performance art showcase that closes out each year’s exhibition. That showcase too is intentional and on purpose. This coming March will be the 6th installment of Invisible No More, my hope is that it continues to agitate, compel, inspire, empower and stir individuals into exploring how they can seek their own ways into standing up for Black Women and Girls.