Curated by Tsedaye Makonnen

DC-based interdisciplinary artist Tsedaye Makonnen presents "Black Women as/and the Living Archive," a multi-part project aimed at initiating a conversation about the modes in which Black women encode, preserve, and share memory through community. Central to Makonnen's inquiry is Children of NAN: Mothership, a recent work by artist Alisha Wormsley that functions as a metaphor for the survival and power of Black women in a dystopic future.

Over the course of six weeks, Makonnen will bring together Wormsley and many of the cast and collaborators of Children of NAN: Mothership for a screening, a reading, two performances, and a discussion. The participants include artists Li Harris, Autumn Knight, and Jasmine Hearn. Additionally, Ola Ronke, creator of The Free Black Women's Library, contributes an annotated bibliography of five books, inspired by Wormsley's work.

Black Women as/and the Living Archive programs are organized around four themes: Space, Moving Image, Memory; Collective Memory; Pleasure Memory; and Mama Memory [& Care]. The afterlife of the project will exist as a publication that will serve as a repository for the conversations and intimate interactions between participants and the audience.

"Time is not linear, it stacks. Where we are right now...this isn't a fold, it's a glitch."
- Children of NAN: Mothership

AVAILABLE NOW: Order the "Black Women as/and the Living Archive" publication


Space, Moving Image, Memory
A Pre-Screening Happy Hour w/ Alisha Wormsley & Li Harris 
Instagram Live Event
Friday, May 1 at 5:01–6:00 pm EST

A Double Feature Screening of Alisha Wormsley's film Children of NAN: Mothership and Li Harris's film Cry of the Third Eye: The Last Resort
Virtual Event
Saturday, May 2 at 6:00–8:00 pm EST

Collective Memory
A Reading by Ola Ronke, from N.K. Jemisin's book How Long Til' Black Futures Month
Instagram Event
Wednesday, May 27 beginning at 12:00 pm EST

A Newly Commissioned Performance by Autumn Knight inspired by Alisha Wormsley's film Children on NAN: Mothership
Virtual Event
Thursday, May 28 at 8:30–9:15 pm EST

Pleasure Memory
A Performance using Embodied Sound, Storytelling, and Dance by Jasmine Hearn
Virtual Event
Wednesday, June 10 at 7:30–9:00 pm EST

Mama Memory [& Care]
An Informal Discussion with all Participants and Special Guests
Virtual Event
Saturday, June 13 at 6:00–8:00 pm EST

Clips from Project

"Black women are the utopias":

"Women's Power is in our Blood":

"Tech is primitive, the archive is in me":


Alisha B. Wormsley is an interdisciplinary artist and cultural producer. Her work is about collective memory and the synchronicity of time, specifically through the stories of women of color. Wormsley's work has been honored and supported with a number of awards and grants. Her recent projects include: The People Are The Light (part of the Hillman Photography Initiative), afronaut(a) film and performance series (Homewood Artist Residency), Children of NAN: Mothership film series and archive, and There Are Black People in the Future body of work. These projects have been exhibited at The Andy Warhol Museum, Octavia Butler conference at Spelman University, Carnegie Museum of Art, Johannesburg SA, Studio XX, Project Row Houses, Houston Art League, Rush Art Gallery, The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and most recently the Mattress Factory.  She is currently working on: a public park design around community and sustainable water, a temporary installation in Pittsburgh's Market square, and creating a public program to use her text "There Are Black People In the Future" to open up discourse around displacement and gentrification. Wormsley has an MFA in Film and Video from Bard College and was awarded a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Art at Carnegie Mellon University.  

Ola Ronke is the founder of The Free Black Women's Library, an interactive mobile library with a collection of over 2000 books written by Black women. This mobile library pops up monthly, mainly in Brooklyn but has also been presented in Harlem and Queens, as well as Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The mission of this social art project is to center and celebrate the writing and lives of Black women and provide free access to their wide range of words and stories. 

Lisa (Li) E. Harris is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, and composer from Houston. She is a trained classical voice/opera singer and is certified as a facilitator of DEEP LISTENING, the sonic philosophies of composer Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016). Harris's work focuses on the energetic relationships between body, land, spirit, and place. She uses voice, theremin, movement, text, and new media to explore healing in performance. In 2007, Harris founded Studio Enertia, a multi-media production collective and in 2013 began the artist-run Studio Enertia Artist Residency Program in Houston. She is a 2015 Valiante Award recipient, a 2016 inaugural artist in residence at The New Quorum, and a 2017 MANCC Forward Dialogues Fellow at Florida State University, Tallahassee. Her two new opera films Cry of the Third Eye and Children of the Lost use vocal composition and film to amplify the quelled voices of youth and displaced people due to rapid gentrification in Houston's Third Ward. Harris attained a Bachelor of Music Degree from the Mannes College and a Master of Music Degree from Manhattan School of Music.

Jasmine Hearn is a performer, director, choreographer, organizer, and teaching artist. A native Houstonian, they graduated magna cum laude from Point Park University with their BA in Dance. Hearn is a member of Urban Bush Women Dance Company and also collaborates with BANDportier, Vanessa German, and Alisha B. Wormsley. They have worked and performed with Alesandra Seutin's vocabdance, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, David Dorfman Dance, Helen Simoneau Danse, Jennifer Myers, Kate Watson-Wallace, Lovie Olivia, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Solange Knowles, STAYCEE PEARL dance project, Tara Aisha Willis, will rawls, and with Nick Mauss as a part of exhibition, TRANSMISSIONS, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Awarded a 2017 "Bessie" Award for Outstanding Performance with Skeleton Architecture, Hearn has had residencies at Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Camargo Foundation, Dance Source Houston, and the PearlArts Studios. She is a 2018 Movement Research AIR and a 2019 Jerome Foundation Jerome Hill Artist Fellow.

Autumn Knight is an artist working with performance, installation, video, and text. Her performance work has been presented at Akademie der Kunste, Art League Houston, Blaffer Art Museum, The Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Crystal Bridges Museum, DiverseWorks, Krannart Art Museum, The New Museum, Optica, The Poetry Project, Project Row Houses, and Skowhegan Space. Knight has been an artist-in-residence with In-Situ, Galveston Artist Residency, YICA, Artpace, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She is the recipient of an Artadia Award (2015) and an Art Matters Grant (2018). She has served as visiting artist at Montclair State University, Princeton University, and Bard College. Her performance work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2016 and holds a MA in Drama Therapy from New York University.

Ingrid LaFleur is a curator, pleasure activist, and Afrofuturist. Her mission is to ensure equal distribution of the future, exploring the frontiers of social justice through new technologies, economies and modes of government. As a recent Detroit Mayoral candidate and creator of AFROTOPIA, LaFleur implements Afrofuturist strategies to empower Black bodies and oppressed communities through frameworks such as blockchain and universal basic income. Ingrid LaFleur is currently the Social Impact Advisor for Detroit Blockchain Center and the founder and director of The Afrofuture Strategies Institute. As a thought leader, social justice technologist, public speaker, teacher, and cultural advisor she has led conversations and workshops at Centre Pompidou (Paris), TEDxBrooklyn, TEDxDetroit, Ideas City, New Museum (New York), AfroTech Conference, Harvard University, and Oxford University, among others. LaFleur serves on the board of JustSpace Alliance, Powerhouse Productions, and the Cooley ReUse Project. 

Jamila Raegan is an interdisciplinary artist whose work addresses inequity and violence, a marker of her personal and cultural experiences. She most often creates sculptures and environments to provide a space for mourning and collective healing. Raegan studied photography and Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville and later served as a founding board member and arts educator at Extreme Kids and Crew, a not-for-profit arts organization for children and families with special needs in New York City. Raegan currently lives and works in Chicago, IL where she studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

About the Curator

Tsedaye Makonnen primarily works in sculpture, performance, installation, and textile. Her studio, curatorial, and research-based practice threads together her identity as a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and a Black American woman, as well as her experience as a doula and a mother. Her work is both an intimate memorialization and protective sanctuary for Black lives. Makonnen is the recent recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, DC Public Library Maker Residency, DC Oral History Grant and the Savage-Lewis Artist Residency on Martha's Vineyard. She has performed at the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Miami, Chale Wote Street Art Festival (Ghana), El Museo del Barrio, Fendika Cultural Center (Ethiopia), Festival International d'Art Performance (Martinique), Queens Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and more. She has spoken on migration and intersectional feminism at the Hirshhorn Museum, Black Portraitures, Common Field, DPLAFest, New York University, and elsewhere. Her light monuments have been exhibited at the August Wilson Cultural Center and National Gallery of Art. In 2019 she was on the front cover of the Washington City Paper's People Issue. Since the start of 2020, she has been in three exhibitions: a performance art two-person show at the August Wilson Cultural Center curated by Kilolo Luckett, a group show at Maryland Institute College of Art curated by Dr. Deb Willis, a group show at Latchkey Gallery in NYC, and a durational performance at The Africa Center in NYC. She lives in DC with her 9 year-old son.


Film stills by Alisha Wormsley
Design by Rheagen King
Typefaces by Ethan Nackache and Jeremy Landes


This and other WPA projects are made possible 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; Bloomberg Philanthropies; The Corcoran Women's Committee; The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Hickok Cole Architects; White&Case; and many other generous foundations, corporations, and individuals.


May 2–June 13, 2020