Mahari Kathleen Chabwera
I am an American born visual artist, curator and facilitator rooted in Black Women’s wisdom traditions. Born in DC in 1995 and raised in the South, I currently live and work in Baltimore, Maryland pursuing an art practice rooted in womanist principles. I am committed to creating atmospheres of beauty and commonality. I steward spaces, and organize programs with local and regional artists and arts organizations. Currently I'm developing an artist incubator rooted in mutual upliftment and communion, titled STUDIOHOUSE. As well as SALT, a fellowship for Black women artists named in honor of Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters.
I think about my work as ancestor reverence and protective gestures. I construct a framework of Black femininity rooted in shared divinity and self-actualization. The figure’s in my paintings are shapeshifters experiencing self-initiated transformations. They are made with oil paint or composed of individual pieces of tempered glass mosaiced back together. I weave glass beads, and string natural materials like magnolia seed pods and cowrie shells to canvas. Wooden or copper dowels go through fabric pockets affixed to the top of tapestry paintings. This support is then suspended from hand forged iron hooks shaped like snakes, leaves and vulvas. My work lives at the intersection of self-mythologization and mysticism. I am interested in the speculative nature of being. Bein’ alive, bein’ a woman and bein’ black as Ntozake Shange puts it.
Featured Image: Birth of the Sacred, 2018. Mixed-media tapestry painting, courtesy of the artist.