A Black Phoenix Rising Art Experience Premiered at Zilkha

A Black Phoenix Rising Art Experience was a creative collaboration of Wesleyan students, artist Ernesto Cuevas Jr., and Associate Professor of Science in Society, Sociology, and African American Studies Anthony Hatch (center right). It opened in the south gallery at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Feb. 22.


This exhibition was co-sponsored by the Center for African American Studies, the Center for the Humanities and the Center for the Arts’ Creative Campus Initiative, made possible with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The projects began in Hatch’s fall 2017 seminar, Black Phoenix Rising, during his fellowship semester at the Center for the Humanities. Working with the Center’s theme of Rethinking Necropolitics, the class explored—through a collaborative process—the methods that African Americans used in order to resist material and symbolic death in American life and culture.

Grounded in the black radical tradition, each of the works in this multimedia exhibit was collaboratively conceived and produced through the power of collective memory and the medium of storytelling.

In the Shadows of Tomorrow brochure that accompanied the exhibit, the artists explain, “Our goal for this work is to embody the Black Phoenix by envisioning life cycles that do not end with . . . death. Instead, we utilize vignettes . . . to tell a story of religion, healing, and spirituality as sites of communal resistance.”

The opening provided a reunion for the class, as well as an invitation to have conversations with friends and community members about the issues raised in the artwork and displays.

The exhibition was on display Feb. 22-25.