present futures: Healing & Self-Preservation as Resistance

February 1 – 28, 2017

In moments of injustice, how do we think about the future when the present is so daunting and fraught? How are self-care and self-preservation prioritized as a strategies for resistance?

Present Futures: Healing and Self-Preservation as Resistance shares the work of Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess, Curtis Bryant, Joseph A. Cuillier III, Dominique Hunter, Llucy Llong, Tsedaye Makonnen and Wi-Moto Nyoka, artists whose practices center on liberating the Black imaginary and challenging dominant narratives around the Black experience. Presented in two parts: a group exhibition at Gnarly Vines and a one-night performance and time-based art series at Pratt Institute.

The exhibition at Gnarly Vines considers self-preservation through three distinct lenses—joy, honor, and conviction—examining the variety of ways we can protect ourselves and commemorate our stories. Informed by Afrofuturism and Afro-Caribbean syncretic religions, Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess constructs ornate collages of fantasy and myth that reject tragedy as the sole, dominant narrative of the Black experience. While Joseph A. Cuillier III’s text-based public installations and publications juxtapose the poetics of radical Black political thought with imagery that explores pragmatic applications for abstraction. Dominique Hunter employs and exaggerates popular advertising techniques in her collages to critique the manner in which the female body is idealized, objectified, and consumed. Abrams, Cuillier, and Hunter contend with representation of the black body in images and language, and through experimental collage techniques they take back control of imposed mainstream narratives.

The one-night presentation of performances and screenings at the Pratt Institute Film/Video Center engages the audience in rituals of self and shared care. There will be performances by Tsedaye Makonnen and Wi-Moto Nyoka, punctuated by the video works of Curtis Bryant and Llucy Llong.

Each artist in Present Futures: Healing and Self-Preservation as Resistance collects information and knowledge associated with the fragmented experiences of the African Diaspora, and recontextualizes familial histories, pop culture, and sociopolitical commentary to enact strategies of healing and self-preservation. Furthermore, they assert that healing and celebration are necessary forms of resistance against the implicit violence and oppressive structures found in everyday life. Present Futures: Healing and Self-Preservation as Resistance believes that a sanctuary of self-care is critical for practitioners of color doing the prolonged work of fighting against injustice and making lasting change.


Presented by Black Art Story Month's THE ALTAR: RITUALS OF HEALING IN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA for the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership

about the artists:

Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess is a project-based artist born and raised in NYC by Guyanese parents. She constructs spaces and experiences of fantasy and myth, using  collage, video installation and performance, that explore Black Utopia through the lenses of Afrofuturism and Afro-Caribbean syncretic religions. She examines folklore and contemporary popular culture, placing them in dialogue with one another to create a site of liberation for the Black imagination, rejecting tragedy as the sole, dominant narrative of the Black experience.

Damali’s work includes video, performance, installation, and collage. She earned a BA at NYU,  an MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and was a participant in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. She has been a fellow at A.I.R. Gallery as well as with apexart in Seoul, South Korea. She has been an artist-in-residence at Fresh Milk (Barbados), Groundation Grenada, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, The Center for Book Arts, and LMCC on Governors Island.

Curtis Bryant is burgeoning a career as both a household artist and household brand. Born and raised in New York, Curtis’ artistry embodies the essence of what he has coined, nue creative, a title which expands the boundaries of his visual practice. As a nue creative, Curtis is invested in the aesthetics of Black visual culture and primarily works in the mediums of photography and graphic design to offer new imagery and narratives of everyday people into the Canon.

Joseph A. Cuillier III is a Harlem based socially engaged artist, designer, and educator, committed to art’s capacity to connect communities and causes. He received a MFA in Graphic Design from Pratt Institute in 2013. Cuillier is a 2016-2017 recipient of the A Blade Grass Fellowship for Socially Engaged Art for his project "The Black School."

Dominique Hunter is a multi-disciplinary Guyanese artist whose works interchange between a direct engagement with the Black female body, historical and contemporary (mis/non)-representations, and strategies for coping with the weight of those impositions. Although her practice is quite varied the physical manifestations of these thematic concerns have been predominantly digital and mixed media collages as well as installation art.

Llucy Llong is a conceptual artist who began her career as a graphic designer.  It wasn't until she began painting to expand her design skills, that she rediscovered her true passion for art.  In many of her pieces, you will see a constant amalgamation of design and fine art, as she seeks to merge two of her favorite mediums: digital media and textiles.  Llucy currently works between Charlotte, NC and her hometown of Atlanta, GA.

Through symmetry, geometric patterns and natural hues, I seek to depict spiritual transitions of indigenous peoples rising into their power through the channels of supreme introspection and divine mysticism.  My current focus is an initiative called "Ascend Together In Power", which seeks to transcend descendants of the original people to a divine space where ancestral traditions and familial foundations are restored. 

Tsedaye Makonnen is an Ethiopian-American interdisciplinary artist. She is drawn to conveying the African Diaspora's creative responses to assimilating, destroying and recreating the Self within new territories. As of late, she has been connecting the forced migrations of black bodies taking place in the States and abroad through performance art and installations.

WI-MOTO NYOKA is a performer and transmedia artist. Awards and honors include: Tanzhaus NRW Interdisciplinary Works artist in residence 2011, Puffin Foundation grant recipient 2012, the Brick’s Comic Book Theater Festival 2014 selected librettist, Indie Boots Theater Festival Finalist & Audience Award Honorable Mention 2015, A.R.T/New York Creative Space Grant recipient 2016, Urban Action Showcase Official Film Selection 2016.


Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess

Curtis Bryant

Joseph A. Cuillier III

Dominique Hunter

Llucy Llong

Tsedaye Makonnen

Wi-Moto Nyoka


Curated and organized by Suhaly Bautista-Carolina, Kathy Cho, Teal Baskerville, Lynnette Miranda and Henry Murphy

Gnarly Vines

350 Myrtle Avenue | Brooklyn, NY


Pratt Institute, Film & Video Department

550 Myrtle Avenue | Brooklyn, NY