Genel Ambrose and Tina Knowles Lawson Highlight Black Women Artists With New Art Exhibit

When Black women team up, it can be a sight to witness. Genel Ambrose and Tina Knowles Lawson have curated a special avenue for Black femme-identifying visual artists in Los Angeles.

The WITNESS exhibition began on April 1 and invites viewers to see the world through the eyes of 14 Black woman artists for eight weeks. Knowles Lawson, curator, and Ambrose, artist and curator, bridge the gap between other people and Black women. Exhibition attendees become privy to honest reflections about how the 14 artists view society, their communities, and even themselves through workshops and talks.

Visitors can record their own narratives through the TRUTH installation. The interactive platform aims to address how Black women and girls are largely portrayed due to algorithmic bias.

Ambrose shared, “I am a mom of three girls, an artist, curator, and writer. As an artist, I create experiences that interrogate memory and the role that technology plays in preserving and sharing the narratives of Black women and girls.

“As a curator, I believe that art is a tool for social impact and collective transformation. I enjoy creating spaces that build community and celebrate Black women’s creative and intellectual brilliance.”

Ambrose brings her GOOD MIRRORS cultural institution as co-presenter of the visual art experience. Like WITNESS, GOOD MIRRORS is committed to Black women and works to reflect Black women “as whole and dignified beings.” Knowles Lawson and Ambrose also partnered with Black Women Photographers.

The artist and curator said, “WACO Theater, Black Women Photographers and I were eager to bring together Black women and non-binary visual artists who project their visions of society, community and themselves through art.”

“We asked ourselves these questions: What do we witness when we see through the eyes of Black women? What do Black women call our attention to? What possibilities are made visible when looking alongside Black women? WITNESS is our response.”

“Exploring themes of identity, girlhood, womanhood, family, community care, adornment, future-making, and dreaming, WITNESS invites viewers to look alongside and through the eyes of these artists and bear witness to what they might not otherwise see on their own,” Ambrose added.

She also shared that, “WITNESS is a call for us all to be witnesses and stewards of our stories (visual and written). As Black women and nonbinary people, stewarding our stories is a critical act of self care that will allow us to continue to thrive throughout generations.”

Artists featured in the exhibit include Alexis Hunley, Amber J. Phillips, Amber Evangelista, Sophia Nahli Allison, and Stephanie Mei-Ling. Where Art Can Occur (WACO) Theater Center in North Hollywood will house the art exhibition through May 27.

BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with Ambrose to talk about the exhibit, partnering with WACO Theater Center, the importance of authentically showcasing Black art and much more.

What is the aim of GOOD MIRRORS?

Genel Ambrose: Our name is inspired by Audre Lorde’s poem, “GOOD MIRRORS ARE NOT CHEAP.” The poem describes how the status quo creates gross misperceptions of historically marginalized people. At GOOD MIRRORS, we believe it is up to us to create our own heroes and our own mirrors.

How did you choose which visual artists to feature in the exhibit and how do their works complement your overall vision?

We wanted the exhibition to feel immersive and interactive. We selected artists whose work spans installation, portraiture, digital collage, and film. What connects each artist is their use of art to tell expanded and nuanced stories about Black people, community, society, and the world as they see it.

Why do you believe it is so important that Black women photographers capture art from their perspective?

It is important for Black women photographers and artists to share their stories and perspectives through art so that we can bear witness to the fullness of who we are. Our stories are often told for us. By capturing our own imagery and creating our own art, we are able to tell our own stories, create our own mirrors, and see ourselves on our terms—as whole human beings.