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Shug Avery’s Kiss

Tiona Nekkia McClodden

A photo of Shug Avery’s Kiss
A photo of Shug Avery’s Kiss

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, this project will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.

March 6–April 21, 2018

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On March 6, Tiona Nekkia McClodden will begin work on a Shug Avery’s Kiss, a project that will turn the physical space of Recess into a juke joint.

McClodden’s project will create a suite of works comprised of audio, image, video, and objects dedicated to the fictional character Shug Avery from Alice Walker’s 1982 novel The Color Purple with consideration of her character’s representation in the 1985 film by the same name.

The foundation of the project is an examination of the juke joint as a historical site of Black artistic creation and social engagement. McClodden will activate the space with a host of programming, including letter writing workshops with fellow Black women; intimate conversations on love, religion, sisterhood, and friendship; as well as an ongoing series of commissioned jukes, featuring live collaborations that the artist will stage throughout the Session with invited artists, musicians, vocalists, painters and dancers.

Shug Avery’s Kiss will manifest as a hybrid reading of the character Shug Avery’s bedroom and the juke joint featured within the film and the novel, The Color Purple, presented alongside McClodden’s personal collection of ephemera and memorabilia from the film. Sharing the space will be a host of films, videos, and curated playlists related to the character of Shug Avery, by women close to McClodden as well as blues singers from throughout the history of the juke joint. Shug Avery’s Kiss will offer an invocation of desire, healing, and spirituality centered on the lived experiences of a Black, queer woman from the South.

Session invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.

About the artist

Tiona Nekkia McClodden

Tiona Nekkia McClodden is a visual artist, filmmaker, and curator based in North Philadelphia. McClodden’s interdisciplinary approach traverses documentary film, experimental video, sculpture, and sound installations. Themes explored in McClodden’s films and works have been re-memory and more recently narrative biomythography. McClodden has been awarded the 2017 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and the 2016 Pew Fellowship in the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. McClodden is the curator of the exhibitions A Recollection. + Predicated. featured within Julius Eastman: That Which is Fundamental, an interdisciplinary, multi-artist project that examines the life, work, and resurgent influence of Julius Eastman.

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