In the winter of 1974, outside a bar in Berkeley, Calif., Ntozake Shange performed her now-lauded choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
with four of her female friends. Following that maiden performance, for colored girls
went on to Broadway and was nominated for Tony and Grammy awards. Forty years later, the message of self-awareness and feminine strength is still relevant and meaningful. “i found god in myself
,” curated by media producer Souleo, is a multi-gallery group exhibition in honor of the piece on its 40th anniversary.
Like Shange’s piece, the exhibition does not follow convention. Exhibited across three different locations, it engages a wide range of issues, including race, sexual identity, gender, love, and war. Although feminine experience and perspective are the heart of the show, both male and female artists are included all at various stages in their career.
“i found god in myself” offers wildly diverse depictions of women, like the tranquil image of a contemporary Madonna by realist oil painter Jas Knight
, Ruth Rodriguez
’s voluptuous, pink-tinted women overlaid with lace doily patterning, or Uday K. Dhar
’s vivid interpretation of the Hindu goddess Kali. Sculpture in the show also runs the gamut: Jeanine Alfieri
’s dreamy work Guinevere
(2002) shows an unknown figure wrapped in a sunset-colored cloth, its hips and breasts accentuated by the drape, and in a striking sculpture by Arlene Rush
, a faceless female form leans on a stool with one foot planted in a pile of shattered glass—the same glass that forms its skin.
A spectrum of voices and experiences are represented in “i found god in myself,” some empowered, some pained, but ultimately in celebration of Shange’s timeless message of self-awareness: “i found god in myself / & i loved her/ i loved her fiercely.”