Art on the Atlanta BeltLine launched its inaugural public art Residency Program in 2019. Designed to offer real-world exposure operating within the realm of public art and infrastructure in the fields of public art, curation, and research, the Atlanta BeltLine Residency Program is proud to feature the work of its inaugural Residents, including Courtney Brooks, the 2019-2020 Curator-in-Residence.
JOURNEY OF A BLACK GIRL
EXPLORING SELF IDENTITY THROUGH CULTURE, LOVE AND HEALING
Journey of a Black Girl (JOABG) was a public art exhibition presented by Curator-in-Residence, Courtney Brooks, in partnership with Art on the Atlanta BeltLine. JOABG opened in March 2020 and ran through June, presenting various installations from multi-disciplinary artists of the African diaspora. Due to COVID-19, the majority of Ms. Brooks’ events were held virtually. Links to video content are included below.
Journey of a Black Girl is a curatorial narrative that visually shares the beautiful struggle from adolescence to womanhood from a black woman creative’s point of view. As women, we are forever growing, evolving, adjusting and reinventing ourselves.
Through JOABG, Courtney seeks to explore the authentic space of the transitions, what influences identity, the relationship with self, and how to love yourself unapologetically. In addition, JOABG focuses on the importance of sisterhood and how it shapes our relationships with peers and the women we look up too; it inspires engagement with the community in multifaceted works of public art, representing our culture responsibly, through experimentation of contemporary works of art in hair, fashion, performance, film and visual installations.
PHASE I: WHAT LITTLE BLACK GIRLS ARE MADE OF
The opening to Journey of a Black Girl merges the core of self-expression and the innocence of adolescence. Integrating everyday rituals and practices passed down through our ancestors, Phase I is dedicated to the moments when we learned we are black.
This event was originally scheduled for March 14, 2020, from 2-5 p.m. on the Southside Trail Entrance at Glenwood Avenue and Bill Kennedy Way, but was cancelled due to COVID-19. View the Phase 1 video below:
This Crown Belongs to Us. During this activation, a community-based project was held to create workshops on hair braiding and invites women of various communities, nearby neighborhoods, hair stylists, college, high school and elementary students to participate in making 18ft long braids with various materials. The mission was to increase sisterhood bonds with multiple ages, sharing of stories and learning a skill that carries on over generations. Read more about Ms. Brooks events and her thoughts on the exhibition.
View the official “What Black Girls Are Made Of” video:
Homegirl’s Clubhouse. An interactive safe space created for self-care, with exterior walls with words of affirmation. Interior designed with black women author book selections and artwork positive imagery for a girl hideaway. View Ms. Brooks’ Facebook Live talk with the artist and participants in Homegirl’s Clubhouse, including:
- Artist Yuzly Mathurin
- Dr. Arshley Emile
- Jaia Robinson
- Rita Harper
- D. Hodges
Express Yourself. Live music performance (GSU- Panther Group Entertainment)
PHASE II. I’M EVERY WOMAN
A Journey of a Black Girl transitions into womanhood where one learns to stand in power, accepting flaws and embracing true beauty inside and out. Sometimes this may get lost in translation based on life interactions. Becoming a black woman, there are lessons learned when dealing with the good, the bad and ugly that society places on you. How letting go of what no longer serves you by knowing your purpose and your worthiness to sharing your gifts. Womanhood is holding a place for spiritually, honoring those ancestors who walked before you and practicing beliefs passed on to you or what you may have discovered on your own. The importance of dealing with the trials and tribulations and the outcomes caused by trauma. What energy is being released and energy is invited, the revisit to self-care is part taking care of mental health.
This event was originally scheduled for March 21, 2020, from 3-6 p.m. on the Southside Trail at Milton Avenue, but was cancelled due to COVID-19.
This Crown Belongs to Us. Pivoting to an online audience, Ms. Brook created with her Phase II artists “This Crown Belongs to Us,” a conceptual collaboration of visual expression that captures imagery of art performance and uplifts black bodies and voices. Reminding Black women and girls of their worth, wellness, self love, while protecting and honoring sisterhood. We embracing our black through healing rituals, gathering of our ancestral spirits, conjuring greatness by releasing trauma, fear and self doubt.
View the official “This Crown Belongs to Us” video:
- Healing Ritual projections – Charmaine Minniefield
- Performance art – Angela Davis Johnson
- Spoken word – Theresa Tha Songbird
- Photo imagery – Melissa Alexander
PHASE III. BLACK GIRL MAGIC
The closing of JOABG is a reflection of Ms. Brooks’ personal journey: “Growing up in Denver, Colorado as a young black girl interested in art, I was not aware of artists who looked like me. No large murals of faces who resembled mine, no directory for African American women visual artists creating or known museums or galleries to view such works. However, I was fortunate to witness the images my parents would share through their vinyl collections, documentaries on Black History and popular black culture magazines like Jet, Essence and Ebony spread throughout the house. Intrigued by the black advertisements for beauty and hair products, I would fall in love the beauty of black women. I would pay close attention to fashion and hair styles shown in movies, TV shows and music videos. These experiences, in particular, increased my imagination as a young creative.”
This event was originally scheduled for April 5, 2020, from 3-6 p.m. on the Southside Trail at 1050 Boulevard, but was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Mural Reveal – Representation Matters, Black Girl Image from Denver Artist (Thomas “Detour” Evans)
Upgrade You – Vintage Block Party partnered with JOBAG to host a fashion pop up display from local Atlanta vendors and stylists. A open shopping space that expresses black girls never go out of style. Watch the virtual JOABG fashion show on Facebook Live, including soundtrack by @DJBombJahlaam.
Watch the Facebook Live video of Ms. Brooks and Miranda Kyle, Arts and Culture Program Manager, discuss the curation and development of Journey of a Black Girl.
Courtney Brooks is an Atlanta based independent curator, multifaceted visual artist, and art instructor. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Brooks carries a decade of experience, giving creative direction for interactive art events and curating over 20 solo and group exhibitions throughout the Atlanta area. In 2019 she exceeded expectations as the lead curator and gallery director for ArtsXchange, Jack Sinclair Gallery located in East Point. Courtney was the first Curator-In-Residence for the Atlanta Beltline. Her eye-catching skills, collaborations with other visionaries and innovative ideas helps connect communities to the arts.