Shug Avery’s Kiss, 2018


On March 6, 2018, Tiona Nekkia McClodden began work on a Shug Avery’s Kiss, a project that turned the physical space of Recess into a juke joint.


McClodden’s project created a suite of works comprised of audio, image, video, and objects dedicated to the fictional character Shug Avery from Alice Walker’s 1982 novel The Color Purple with consideration of her character’s representation in the 1985 film by the same name.


The foundation of the project was an examination of the juke joint as a historical site of Black artistic creation and social engagement. McClodden activated the space with a range of programming, including letter-writing workshops with fellow Black womxn; intimate conversations on love, religion, sisterhood, and friendship; as well as an ongoing series of commissioned jukes, featuring live collaborations that she staged throughout the Session with invited artists, musicians, vocalists, painters and dancers.


Shug Avery’s Kiss manifested as a hybrid reading of the character Shug Avery’s bedroom and the juke joint featured within the film and the novel, The Color Purple, presented alongside McClodden’s personal collection of ephemera and memorabilia from the film. A host of films, videos, and curated playlists related to the character of Shug Avery, by women close to McClodden as well as blues singers from throughout the history of the juke joint were featured within the space. 


Shug Avery’s Kiss offered an invocation of desire, healing, and spirituality centered on the lived experiences of a Black, queer womxn from the South.


Installation Photography by Chris Whittier

Shug Avery’s Kiss

On Love: Tiona Nekkia McClodden with Chloë Bass

Thursday, March 22 6-8pm


These conversations which will pair Tiona Nekkia McClodden within the physical space of Shug Avery’s Kiss at a single table, with a woman in her life to talk intimately and freely about a theme or topic related to Shug Avery who McClodden considered her first view of a “ uncompromising woman committed to a full self inclusive of all the various identities she possesses….” Through these conversations it is McClodden’s hope to explore the various aspects of herself through dialogue with the women who mirror these particular themes that will be exploring..


There will be no Q+A and no audience participation during these conversations. There will be music and drinks before and after the conversation for folks to engage with each other until we close. BYOB.


For this first conversation McClodden will engage in a one on one conversation with artist Chloë Bass on the topic of love as it relates to the following three prompts.


I.

She say, I love you, Miss Celie. And then she haul off and kiss me on the mouth.


Um, she say, like she surprise. I kiss her back, say, um, too. Us kiss and kiss till us can’t hardly kiss no more. Then us touch each other.


I don’t know nothing bout it, I say to Shug.


I don’t know much, she say.


  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

II.

"Love is big. Love can hold anger, love can even hold hatred. I mean, you know, it's all— it's all love. It's about the intention of what you want it to do. It's about what you're trying to give. And often when you're trying to give something, you know, it has a lot of pain in it. But the pain too is a part of the love….Actually some pain is so severe that there’s nothing else you can do. I mean forgiveness is the only remedy."


-An Interview with Alice Walker by Esther Iverem


III.

Love is abundant, and every relationship is unique

Love and respect instead of entitlement

Find your core set of relationship values

Heterosexism is rampant and out there, but don’t let fear lead you

Build for the lovely unexpected

Fake it til’ you make it

Trust is better

Change through communication

Customize your commitments


-The short instructional manifesto for relationship anarchy byAndie Nordgren


About the guest;

Chloë Bass is a multiform conceptual artist working in performance, situation, conversation, publication, and installation. Her work uses daily life as a site of deep research to address scales of intimacy: where patterns hold and break as group sizes expand. She began her work with a focus on the individual (The Bureau of Self-Recognition, 2011 - 2013), has recently concluded a study of pairs (The Book of Everyday Instruction, 2015 - 2017), and will continue to scale up gradually until she’s working at the scale of the metropolis. Chloë has held numerous fellowships and residencies; 2017’s included Triangle Art Association, the Center for Book Arts, and Antenna’s Spillways Fellowship. Her projects have appeared nationally and internationally, including recent exhibits at the Kitchen, the Brooklyn Museum, CUE Art Foundation, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Project Space, The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, the James Gallery, and elsewhere. Her forthcoming book will be published by the Operating System in May 2018. Writing has also appeared on Hyperallergic, Arts.Black, and the Walker Reader among others. She is an Assistant Professor of Art at Queens College, CUNY.

Shug Avery’s Kiss

Religion and Spirituality: Tiona Nekkia McClodden with Ashley Tai

Thursday, March 29th 6-8pm


As part of her Session project, Tiona Nekkia McClodden has organized a series of conversations in which she will be paired with a woman in her life to talk intimately and freely about a theme or topic related to Shug Avery within the physical space of Shug Avery’s Kiss. McClodden considers Avery to be her first example of an “uncompromising woman committed to a full self, inclusive of all the various identities she possesses….” Gathering with her discussant at a single table, it is McClodden’s hope to explore the various aspects of herself through dialogue with the women who mirror the respective theme of each conversation. There will be no Q+A and no audience participation during these conversations. There will be music and drinks before and after the conversation for everyone in the spirit of the juke joint. BYOB. For this first conversation, McClodden will talk with performance artist Ashley Tai on the topic of Religion and Spirituality as it relates to the following prompt;


I.

" Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.


It? I ast.


Yeah, It. God ain’t a he or a she, but a It.


But what do it look like? I ast.


Don’t look like nothing, she say. It aint a picture show. It ain’t something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found It.”


-The Color Purple

Alice Walker



Curated Playlist #2;

Shug Avery’s Kiss - Danielle Deadwyler


https://open.spotify.com/user/22prohe26ayxihkhiy7g225jy/playlist/4GhXkNCZOWAtMZAXeEnDH4?si=sbcRHy69Sp6s0EYmEeimiw

Shug Avery’s Kiss

On Love: Tiona Nekkia McClodden with Taphi McClodden

Thursday, April 4th 6-8pm


As part of her Session project, Tiona Nekkia McClodden has organized a series of conversations in which she will be paired with a woman in her life to talk intimately and freely about a theme or topic related to Shug Avery within the physical space of Shug Avery’s Kiss. McClodden considers Avery to be her first example of an “uncompromising woman committed to a full self, inclusive of all the various identities she possesses….” Gathering with her discussant at a single table, it is McClodden’s hope to explore the various aspects of herself through dialogue with the women who mirror the respective theme of each conversation. There will be no Q+A and no audience participation during these conversations. There will be music and drinks before and after the conversation for everyone in the spirit of the juke joint. BYOB. For this first conversation, McClodden will talk with sister Taphi McClodden on the topic of Sisterhood as it relates to the following prompt;


Sister,

You've been on my mind

Sister, we're two of a kind

So sister,

I'm keepin' my eyes on you

I betcha think

I don't know nothin'

But singin' the blues

Oh sister, have I got news for you

I'm somethin'

I hope you think

That you're somethin' too

Oh, Scufflin',

I been up that lonesome road

And I seen a lot of suns goin' down

Oh, but trust me

No low life's gonna run me around

So let me tell you somethin' sister

Remember your name

No twister,

Gonna steal your stuff away

My sister

Sho' ain't got a whole lot of time

So shake your shimmy,

Sister

'Cause honey this 'shug

Is feelin' fine


Miss Celie's Blues written by Quincy Jones

Shug Avery’s Kiss

On Friendship: Tiona Nekkia McClodden with keondra bills freemyn

Thursday, April 12th 6-8pm


As part of her Session project, Tiona Nekkia McClodden has organized a series of conversations in which she will be paired with a woman in her life to talk intimately and freely about a theme or topic related to Shug Avery within the physical space of Shug Avery’s Kiss. McClodden considers Avery to be her first example of an “uncompromising woman committed to a full self, inclusive of all the various identities she possesses….” Gathering with her discussant at a single table, it is McClodden’s hope to explore the various aspects of herself through dialogue with the women who mirror the respective theme of each conversation. There will be no Q+A and no audience participation during these conversations. There will be music and drinks before and after the conversation for everyone in the spirit of the juke joint. BYOB. For this first conversation, McClodden will talk with poet and writer keondra bills freemyn on the topic of Friendship.


keondra bills freemyn is a queer South Central L.A. native with roots in Detroit and Brooklyn. Inspired by the extraordinary beauty of ordinary things, she spends her days wrangling wanderlust and digging herself out of internet black holes. She is the author of Things You Left Behind (Poems) and the forthcoming collection Haiku for Lovers. keondra is an alumna of Fordham University and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She currently resides in Maryland with her wife.

Shug Avery's Kiss Curated Playlists;


Danielle Deadwyler - Actress + Perfromance Artist


Morgan Parker - Poet


Stasia Mehschel 'Stass The Boss' - DJ + Musical Artist


Morgan Rhodes - Music Supervisor

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