Anastacia Tolbert has been involved in many events at the gallery, most recently the performance of her one woman show, 9 Ounces along with her solo installation Footnotes from the Body. We asked Tolbert what her experience was like to present such a personal body of work on the topics of racism and misogyny in contemporary society today and what's next for the writer and performer..... 1. How did you become involved with Twilight Gallery? I met owner Tracy Cilona at a reading and instantly loved her energy and found out she had a gallery space that she was thinking of using as part gallery and part art space. This immediately made me happy and I asked her if she’d be interested in being a venue that housed an event I wanted to curate. It’s been Twilight Gallery love every since.
2. You began as a writer and spoken word artist, correct? What was the process and motivation that moved you toward installation and performance? How does your writing inform your art and vice versa. I began as a writer and I always think of myself as a writer first. I never liked the term spoken word artist because I feel like it negates the serious writing involved in my craft. I have always been a writer who shares their work with the public. I moved toward doing more art installation pieces because I felt like the need for change started to take over my physical body and I needed a way for it to be released. I also have realized some people gravitate to art before they read a book or listen to poetry. I like social justice art installation because it allows me to express myself in more than one layer.
3. We are living in a time where old ways of being can no longer be tolerated. Racism, sexism, ableism, all the isms have sparked a fierce liberation movement among PoC and women activists. Your work speaks to the violence against PoC and more specifically the multitude of suffering WoC have to endure in a lifetime. Where do you see your work in this current liberation movement? What are some of the limitations you've encountered with your white audiences? Do you see your art as activist art? What would you like to see happen in the ways that your art and performances are discussed? I definitely consider myself a social justice ARTIVIST (activist + artist) and I am a living being faced with parenting black men and being a woman of color 24/7, it is more than just an idea to write or art about, it’s a life I live. I think the movement towards liberation is happening at so many levels and I am just one of the few writers/artist/activist tackling hard subject matters. In terms of white audience members there are varied responses. Some white allies really appreciate all the works that I am doing and they are moved to allow themselves to be provoked by the art/writing and further provoked to BE a change-maker. Some ofmy white audience members are afraid or repulsed by the work and feel as though they would rather see paintings about sunsets or waterfalls and some of my white audience members need time to process what they’ve seen or heard. Ultimately I am okay with all three. As an artist my job is not to please any audience member, my job is to make audience members think. I am no longer concerned with if the audience “loves” my work anymore. I am more concerned with if I feel I achieved what I wanted to do in the context of the work and whether I have given the audience layers to unpeel.
4. What's next for you? So much! I never stop! I plan to continue to tour and perform 9 Ounces, finish writing and produce a new play, offer creative workshops around social justice issues and my third book Forget It is coming out in 2017 with Black Radish Books.
Don't miss Anastasia Tolbert's Leave a Message at the Beep! Coming this October 2016 to Twilight Gallery. Stay tuned.....