HUB-Robeson Galleries to present 'Still Here,' an exhibition of eight films

December 10, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The HUB-Robeson Galleries will present "Still Here," an exhibition of eight films, from Jan. 21 to March 22, 2020, in the first floor HUB Gallery in the HUB-Robeson Center on Penn State's University Park campus.

All are welcome to a free, informal celebration from 4-6 p.m. on Jan. 21. 

Curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah, Kiara Ventura and Dexter Wimberly, "Still Here" explores stories of migration, displacement and survival by eight artists that represent a spectrum of the African Diaspora.

The works in the exhibition use images to highlight the rituals and traditions that persevere and evolve, despite the historical ripple effects of colonialism and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. "Still Here" underscores the resilience of people of the African Diaspora, and how images can serve as a device to demonstrate how these communities have developed tactics, language and strategies to assert their agency and sovereignty.

The stories illustrate a range of experiences with a focus on what was lost, what has evolved, and what is in danger of being erased; through these episodes, it is evident that a spiritual element always remains. The films tell the stories of people of color who use their intuition to create connections between their ancestral pasts and their complex present identities, forming an in-between state resulting from displacement and living in the Western world.

The eight artists in the show include:

  • Larry Achiampong, who documents the mutations of religious tradition as a result of colonization by filming various African communities worshiping within the interiors of Roman Catholic churches across London. 
  • Adama Delphine Fawundu explores the essence of hair growth and its symbolic significance to her native Mende heritage.
  • In his film "Papa Machete," Jason Fitzroy Jeffers illustrates the importance of heritage and memories via Haitian machete fencing, an esoteric form of martial art that was used during the Haitian revolution as a farmer’s key to survival. 
  • Carlos Javier Ortiz questions the status of black America today by revisiting the history of the Great Migration, where 6 million African Americans relocated from the rural South to the cities of the North, Midwest and West from 1915 to 1970.
  • With simplified movement and one continuous still shot, Cinthia Marcelle orchestrated 16 musicians to meet at the center of a crossroads, battle, and leave playing music in harmony, emphasizing that all parties are still remaining in the end.
  • In "JUVÉ NITE," MELO-X depicts groups of people of color celebrating, dancing and practicing religions; their bodies present and their influence palpable, strong, assertive and often revolutionary. 
  • Helina Metaferia raises attention to the black body through the conjuring of powerful bloodlines in her performance work. Her project places female descendants of black civil rights activists in conversation with each other, and at sites of historic trauma, in order to visually interrogate the role of the inherited social movement histories on the black body. 
  • Joiri Minaya uses her body as a tool for both creation and destruction, questioning the creation of the exotic illusion put on her being. She asserts her autonomy onto a mural she worked on for a month, destroys the work, and therefore destroys the illusion set on her identity.

All eight artists prove that even through migrations, mutations, battles, oppression and struggle, they are still here. "Still Here" was originally organized at the Museum of the African Diaspora, a Smithsonian affiliate, in San Francisco from May 8 through Aug. 11.

A program of Penn State Student Affairs, the HUB-Robeson Galleries partner with students and contemporary artists to produce gallery exhibitions, public projects, educational programs and cultural events. As a cultural destination at Penn State University Park and a resource for the commonwealth, the galleries support holistic student success through development, engagement and leadership.

The HUB Gallery is free and open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The galleries welcome classroom visits and offer student-led tours. For more information on exhibitions or tours, contact 814-865-2563 or visit the website.

Last Updated September 22, 2020