Tiona Nekkia McClodden: Shug Avery’s Kiss

March 6 – April 21, 2018

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


All events are free and open to the public. Events are subject to change.

JukesMarch 17

April 6 (RSVP required)

April 14, 12-3pm


On Love: Tiona Nekkia McClodden with Chloë Bass, Thursday, March 22nd

On Religion and Spirituality: Tiona Nekkia McClodden with Ashley Tai, Thursday, March 29th,

On Sisterhood: Tiona Nekkia McClodden with Taphi McClodden, Thursday, April 5th, 6-8pm

On Friendship: Tiona Nekkia McClodden with keondra bills freemyn, Thursday, April 12th, 6-8pm


Closing Day: Shug Avery’s Kiss Artist Walkthrough: Saturday, April 21, 3pm



Shug Avery’s Kiss

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.


Open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 12-6pm; Thursday, 2-8pm


 About the Artist

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.





This program is supported, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. This project is also supported in part by an award from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. In-kind support is provided by Materials for the Arts.