Resting Our Eyes
January 21 - June 25
The Combahee River Collective believed that society would inevitably benefit from the success of Black women-centered movements. When we consider what technologies have already been used to dismantle systems of oppression on a personal level, leisure and adornment are often overlooked, but extremely present in everyday life. From silk bonnets, hair salons, to memories of our grandmothers in the quiet meditation of “resting their eyes,” these mechanisms were criminalized and developed against and amidst oppression. A 1918 ordinance in Greenville, South Carolina required Black women to be jailed or heavily fined if they could not prove “regular and useful employment.” In 1786, Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miro enacted a law requiring Black women in Louisiana to wear scarves that completely concealed their hair after he found free Black women’s fashion as displaying “too much luxury in their bearing.” Resting Our Eyes highlights these mechanisms for freedom and reminds us of the visual vocabulary of those practices. These reminders help us imagine and affirm beauty, rest, and self-expression as radical and necessary acts.
Curated by Tahirah Rasheed and Autumn Breon