We have been in community and conversations for years, and our relationship has become a kinship. Over the last two and a half years we have been meeting specifically to workshop our individual art practices. We are mothers, partners, teachers, and creatives who work in multiple disciplines. Within our circle we have found many layers of commonality that feeds and drives our work. This has gifted us with a depth of collective engagement when approaching each other's work. Within this container we have formed a collective and installed our first collaboration as Black Well Red Thread Collective. A huge part of our praxis is community engagement and place based practice; whether that takes place in the future, in honoring our ancestors or within the various intersections we walk. Our hope is to create pathways to new possibilities, remedies, and future - in collaboration.
BLACK WELL RED THREAD COLLECTIVE
Shameka Gagnier presently resides with their partner and family in the unceded traditional territories of The Nisqually, Puyallup and Squaxin Island Peoples. They carry bloodlines from Central (Pure’pecha) and Northern (Cherokee Nation) Turtle Island, Africa (Northern and Western), and Europe (Ireland, England, Spain); many stories and names have been lost due to exploitation, foster care, and adoption. They are committed to working within those intersections to create and support spaces that center art, food, and nourishment for black and indigenous communities. Currently they are a first generation student working towards their undergraduate degree at The Evergreen State College, where they are focusing on Indigenous Studies, Multicultural Communications, and Art.
Gagnier is a multi media artist, working as a wood carver, metalsmith, printmaker, performance artist, music maker, and gardener. Currently they are working with a collective called Black Well Red Thread Collective. This collective creates multimedia art installations with community engagement elements. Within the last year Gagnier has had the opportunity to work as a project coordinator in community lead projects. Much of Gagnier’s work as an artist is done in collaboration, as is their teaching pedagogy. Gagnier works as a coordinator and an artist mentor. This learning exchange is one of the most generous and transformative. Working as a artist mentor is deeply enriching work, the young people bring new perspectives, curriousity, skill, adaptability, and courage. As an educator these engagements continue to shape and enrich Gagnier’s approach to teaching, creating, and connecting. It is through community arts engagements that future projects emerge such as “7 Blankets for The Future Project.
Aisha Harrison has roots in Olympia, WA going back four generations. She studied abroad in Spain during high school, prompting her to be a Spanish major as an undergraduate. She loved studying Latin American literature because of the ways in which the Indigenous people used Spanish stories and images, subverting them and intertwining them with their own, to ensure that Indigenous peoples, images, and stories survived. These camouflaged acts of resistance reminded her of ways that she navigates being of African American and European American mixed heritage in predominantly European American spaces. Aisha uses the body and sculpture as a site for exploration of the lived experiences of racism, ancestral (human and non-human) learning and connection, and the blend of histories held within her body. Her work shows reverence for real bodies (often her own) while also incorporating elements that are physical manifestations of the intangible.
Cholee Gladney is an interdisciplinary visual artist, vocalist, and writer originally from the Seattle area currently living and working in Olympia. She has an educational background in cultural studies, counseling psychology, and drawing/painting.
Through her work, Cholee is excavating new and existing archetypes that can serve as spiritual resources to move us through our most challenging moments. She hopes to create spaciousness from scarcity and transform pain into learning. Her images encourage us to know our inner worlds more intimately so that we may connect more deeply to our truest nature and to one another. She is deeply influenced by the natural world, the stars, the ancestral realm, folk art, self-taught artists, and surrealism. Cholee uses image-making as a window into the interior world- a place to process and locate a sense of wholeness and peace. Imaging is Cholee’s spiritual practice - a bridge to transformation and healing. Making use of what we are given is one of Cholee’s guiding principles, and she returns to creative practices again and again to process her experiences, to heal intergenerational injury while tending to current wounds, and to connect with divine sources of energy and clarity for supportive guidance.