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Shugabanni by W. Michelle Harris

March 3, 2023 - May 6, 2023

Opening Reception: First Friday, March 3, 6-9pm

Shugabanni is a mosaic video portrait of just a few of the Black people of marginalized genders in Rochester who shape this place into a community. “Shugabanni” means “leaders” in the Hausa language. The mosaic tiles are portraits of Black women: Anna Murray Douglass plus her daughters and a granddaughter, as well as nurses, teachers, writers, and shugabanni like Elizabeth Freeman, Frances Watkins Harper, Mary Mahoney, Mary Peake, and Harriet Tubman, and the women and girls who sat for portraits for the W.E.B. DuBois “American Negro” exhibit at the 1900 World’s Fair.

Featured Shugabanni

Javannah Davis
President of Wave Women, advocate, entrepreneur, nurse, mentor, and community leader (her)

Terry Chaka
Artist, interior designer, activist curator, community educator, and cultural advocate (her)

Melanie Funchess
CEO of Ubuntu Village Works, culturally-responsive mental health expert, and community advocate (her)

Tonya Noel
Co-founder of Flower City Noire Collective, director of Rochester Black Urban Growers, and Joy enthusiast (them)

This solo exhibition is presented in conjunction with As I Recall Her: Artists Expand the Legacy of the Douglass Women

About the Artist

W. Michelle Harris is a digital media artist who uses code as a medium for engaging discussions as a Black woman in American culture. Her work has been shown at such diverse venues as the ACM SIGGRAPH, World Maker Faire, and INST-INT, as well as regional venues like Visual Studies Workshop, Gallery 74, Baobab Cultural Center, Community Folk Art Center, Schwienfurth Memorial, and Squeaky Wheel. She has done live-mixed visuals for performances in collaboration with Juanita Suarez, fivebyfive, Dave Rivello, Reenah Golden, and (almost every Rochester Fringe) BIODANCE. She is an associate professor in the New Media Interactive Development program at Rochester Institute of Technology. Harris has a master's degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program of NYU Tisch School of the Arts.


Supported by:

New York State Council on the Arts
Farash Foundation
Gouvernet Arts Fund
County of Monroe
Mary S Mulligan Charitable Trust
and over 1,000 Members!