The Seattle Art Museum, blackpuffin, and Wa Na Wari are pleased to present Femme Noire, a public art exhibition taking place at various locations throughout the Central District this summer 2023.
Femme Noire was initially inspired by former Senegalese president Léopold Sédar Senghor’s poem of the same name, written while he was imprisoned in Germany during World War II. In this poem, Senghor reflects on the beauty and power of Black women: his mother, daughter, wife, and all the women of his beloved home country, to which he longed to return. In Senghor’s writing, the Black women in his life were intrinsically connected to a hope for freedom, belonging, and community.
Inspired by this vision, Femme Noire features the work of women artists from Africa and the African diaspora in an outdoor exhibition that externalizes and celebrates the power of Black women. Installed on lamp poles and at Black-owned businesses and arts organizations throughout the Central District, the project will bring the artists’ works into the community, creating a walking route through the heart of Seattle’s historically Black neighborhood. Using the immediate accessibility the street provides, Femme Noire creates an open public dialogue between the artworks and the community.
This project is the result of collaboration with two innovative arts organizations, blackpuffin and Wa Na Wari. Based in Chicago, blackpuffin’s curatorial work brings artists from Africa and its diaspora to institutions around the world, creating environments where Black voices can thrive. Seattle’s own Wa Na Wari, sited in a fifth-generation Black-owned home in the Central District, is an immersive community art project that creates space for Black ownership, possibility, and belonging through art, historic preservation, and connection.
For more information, please visit femmenoireseattle.com
Image: In Full Bloom, 2022, Thandiwe Muriu, photograph, Courtesy of Thandiwe Muriu & 193 Gallery