Sibyls Shrine: Taking Care

Feb 9–Apr 24, 2021
Silver Eye Center for Photography
4808 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Due to the fatal COVID-19 virus, many people across the country have had to isolate and quarantine in their homes since early March 2020. Spending so much time alone and inside, away from our families and our communities, has had adverse effects on mental health. These lasting effects could ultimately lead to depression, substance abuse or self-harm. During these isolating times, trapped inside of our own individual silos, it is of paramount importance for all of us to find ways to take care of ourselves.

Self care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress. These practices have been clinically proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness, improve energy, and more. Self care practices are especially critical for Black women in the US, and specifically in Pittsburgh, where so many social and environmental factors present challenges to our physical and mental health, and well-being. We give so much of ourselves to others, and yet we often fail to focus on our own care and healing. But what does it look like when Black women are taking care of themselves?

Sibyls Shrine: Taking Care features a collection of images from Alisha Wormsley, Kahmeela Adams, Nakeya Brown, Tara Fay, Tsedaye Makonnen, and sarah huny young which highlight how some Black women in our local community are finding ways to demonstrate care towards and for themselves. There are many healthy ways of dealing with emotions, like writing, playing music, prayer, meditation, exercise, calling your mother, or being in nature. Each of the photographs featured in Sibyls Shrine: Taking Care present a practice of self care that is unique to the individual and their specific needs.

Self care could be taking a moment to tend to your physical appearance, like getting a well deserved mani-pedi, selecting a new style for yourself from one of the iconic hair posters at the beauty salon, or getting fully pampered with a beat face in a luxurious setting. It could also look like a more restorative process such as cleaning your house in an effort to clear your mind, establishing a routine vinyasa yoga practice, or simply making an effort to tune out all the noise, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Self care practices look different for everyone.

Sibyls Shrine: Taking Care presents a diverse collection of images by Black women that demonstrate self-care in a multitude of ways— in their own personal spaces, their homes, beauty salons, nail salons, and even at the laundromat. As Black women we must continue to practice taking care, preserving our health and centering our well-being in a world that doesn't prioritize us. What does self-care look like for you?

-- Jessica Gaynelle Moss, Curator

About Sibyls Shrine

Sibyls Shrine is a first-of-its-kind artist residency program for Black women, womxn, trans women, and femmes who are mothers and identify as artists, creatives, and/or activists in Pittsburgh and beyond. The program, created by artist Alisha Wormsley in 2019, supports a population that has been faced, for centuries, with the intersecting oppressions of racism and sexism, on top of the rigors of motherhood and childcare.

The urgent need for Sibyls Shrine is underscored by the release of the “Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race” report by the Gender Equity Commission of the City of Pittsburgh in 2019. Irrefutable data across multiple categories showed the numerous ways in which Pittsburgh is one of the worst places in the country for Black women to live. When compared to white men and women, life is exponentially more difficult for Black women in Pittsburgh, a reality that has long been experienced by many of us. By providing financial support, funding for childcare, groceries, cleaning assistance, opportunities for skill-sharing, self-care, safe spaces and mutual aid, this project creates a structure that directly addresses the systemic and structural factors that oppress Black womxn, promising to positively impact a population acutely in need.

Artist Alisha B, Wormsley serves as the project’s Creative Director, and works in collaboration with Jessica Gaynelle Moss as the Administrative Director and Naomi Chambers as the Community Artist Liaison. Wormsley, Moss and Chambers are all Pittsburgh-based Black creative mothers. The Office of Public Art provides additional support as the Sibyls Shrine collaborating organization.

About the Curator

This exhibition was guest curated by Jessica Gaynelle Moss (b. 1987). Moss is an artist, independent curator and arts consultant to institutions and private clients. She has an extensive background in program management, production and fabrication, nonprofit leadership, community engagement and the advancement of equitable development. Jessica is committed to developing innovative, ethical and responsible solutions to improve the conditions that directly affect Black people, women and underrepresented artists. Jessica received a bachelors in Fine Art from Carnegie Mellon University; a masters in Arts Administration, Policy and Management from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and a masters in Studies of the Law from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

The Lab Presents series celebrates collaborations with the Lab @ Silver Eye, providing a space for artist's work to be engaged with by our community. The Lab @ Silver Eye is the only workspace in the region where members can access museum quality printing, scanning, and print finishing equipment for affordable DIY use as well as professional development opportunities. Experienced artists can apply for Lab Membership to access the Lab by reservation or during regular Lab hours. The Lab also offer workshops and full service printing, scanning, and framing.

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