In celebration of Black women‘s history in Mesa, Mesa Community College unveiled a new art installation, running from February 1 to April 1 at the MCC Art Gallery. The exhibition showcased two distinct showcases: “Future Matriarchs” and “Matriarchs of Washington Park.”
Tracey Blocker, the gallery coordinator at MCC, expressed the significance of the timing, aligning with Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March. The concept aimed to honor both Black history and women’s contributions.
The south gallery hosted “Future Matriarchs,” curated by Antoinette Cauley, MCC’s Artist-In-Residence. Cauley, an alumna of MCC, carefully selected pieces from local women artists working across various mediums like fiber arts, paintings, film, and ceramics. These artists were known for their community engagement and advocacy on pertinent issues.
Meanwhile, the back half of the gallery featured “Matriarchs of Washington Park,” curated by Bruce Nelson, an independent curator and documentary filmmaker from Mesa. Nelson’s exhibition centered on historic portraits of Black women from the once segregated Washington-Escobedo neighborhood. These women played vital roles in education, healthcare, and community-building.
Nelson’s personal connection to the neighborhood lent authenticity to the exhibition. Additionally, period dress worn by the women and a short film provided deeper insights into their lives. Notably, Nelson’s mother served as his muse, embodying the spirit of the exhibition.
The gallery hosted a reception on February 28, inviting artists, their families, students, and the wider community. The event offered refreshments and featured speakers, fostering a meaningful dialogue around the showcased narratives.
Through these exhibitions, Mesa Community College paid homage to the rich legacies of Black women in Mesa, preserving their stories for future generations to appreciate and learn from.
Repurposed article originally published in the Mesa Legend