2021 Ebon Dooley Honoree
Economic Justice Champion
Artist Activist, Producer
As a visual artist my work seeks to preserve Black narratives as a radical act of social justice. As an artist-activist, I intentionally push back against erasure, displacement, misrepresentation, and marginalization by reclaiming cultural histories in communities affected by gentrification. My work invokes the power of the ancestors. By creating visual roadmaps from the past to the present, paved by the history and stories, love and heartache, success and failures of the ancestors, it celebrates and calls to the present the wisdom of those who have come before to inspire a new freedom movement today. My work reclaims the stories of the ancestors as social iconography of my generation by creating shrine paintings, which present the ancestors as sacred symbols of freedom. I believe that by reclaiming the stories of our ancestors and by praising and committing to their memory, we will better understand our collective potential and ourselves as a society.
The work of Artist-Activist Charmaine Minniefield preserves Black narratives as a radical act of social justice. Firmly rooted in womanist social theory and ancestral veneration, her work draws from indigenous traditions as seen throughout Africa and the Diaspora, to explore African and African-American history, memory, and ritual as an intentional push back against erasure. Her creative practice is community-based as her research and resulting bodies of work often draw from the physical archives as she excavates the stories of African-American, women-led resistance and spirituality and power.
Minniefield’s recent public works, which include projection mapping and site-specific installation, insight dialogue around race, class, and power. Recent projects include the Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives in Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery which honored the over 800 unmarked graves recently discovered within the African-American Burial Grounds through the multimedia installation of a Praise House. Her Praise House Project went on to receive a prestigious Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Charmaine’s work is featured in several public and private collections, and as a muralist, her walls can be seen throughout the City of Atlanta and beyond. She was honored by Mercedes Benz as a part of their Greatness Lives Here campaign. She is featured in the 2020 US Census commercial with her recent mural in Brooklyn depicting women who shaped the future. Minniefield recently served as the Stuart A. Rose Library Artist-in-Residence at Emory University through a collaboration with Flux Projects and as the Curator of Elevate for the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
Charmaine has a long history of including other artists in her projects, to share funding opportunities, and to advocate on behalf of artists. Her determination to help artists, especially Black women artists, to become economically visible by sharing resources and opportunities that will help create change is powerful. Charmaine’s brilliance as an artist is unquestionable, but what has earned her this award is her attention to sharing economic opportunities and funding among other artists. This is such a cooperative and collaborative example that deserves special recognition since under capitalism, being an artist is often a solitary and self-promoting life.