WWHB: Distorted Reflections

The most painful part for me, is that I feel as a black woman that I'm not allowed to process my own pain, but that I'm still expected to be okay.
Cherise Rollins
July 6, 2021

The most painful part for me, is that I feel as a black woman that I'm not allowed to process my own pain, but that I'm still expected to be okay. I'm not okay. Days after the murder of George Floyd happened, I was still completely shut down, mentally lost, and I wanted to use a sick day at work, just to give myself some space to grieve, be angry, and process the pain I'm experiencing. But I felt like my white employers were watching me, that if I took the time I deserved, earned, and needed, they would hold this against me. And I work hard to not slip up, as the only black employee in the company.

Not being allowed to grieve, to process trauma, to experience the pain that exists feels like a modern form of slavery. How can they also own the pain that I experience as a black person in America?

This piece that I created is the mirror that I so often feel separates my self-image from the image the system (systemic racism) projects me to be based on race, class and gender: Limited, powerless, shameful, undeserving, broken. When I stand in front of the mirror I see a bright, vibrant human being represented by the African prints and Native American prints of my ancestors, my heritage, and my legacy. It's built on a very strong foundation, and it's forward movement. This is the image reflected back on me when I look into the mirror.

For me, in the future I hope that I can learn to live more as the person I am and the person I want to be - simply me. As someone who has survived a lot of racial trauma and pain, I hope I can choose how I go forward in the world, regardless of how others project their misunderstanding of who I really am into my sphere. So many of us have lost so much, been silenced, and broken. I want to lift up young black girls and black women - our ancestors are the heart and soul of the story of how this nation came to be and how it has thrived - and today I only want to be a part of empowering them and giving each one of us the opportunities we so deserve. I have so much love to give, and they say love is more powerful than anger, and hate - I want to know just how much more powerful for myself.

About Liberty Worth & "Where We Have Been & Where We Hope To Be"

Liberty Worth is a native of Los Angeles- a city of grit, diversity and great natural beauty. Influenced by the power of art and nature to soothe trauma and bring peace, she creates works that reflect natural wonder and quiet beauty from both new and discarded or repurposed materials. Where We Have Been and Where We Hope to Be is her current series of quilts created as a meditation on grief, hopes, and history in response to the murder of George Floyd and protests in 2020. She constructs these quilts using scraps of African fabrics in simple blocks.

She extended this practice and created a series of videos and materials from her own work and some of the materials from the Inbreak Residency - and pitched it to a small diverse group of friends and colleagues. The participants created works of their own. Each went through the steps of learning the materials (Session 1), mapping their heritage (Session 2), honoring their grief (Session 3) and investigating hope (Session 4). Digital artists turned the project digital, writers wrote profound statements and visual artists pushed boundaries. This is their work. Liberty’s quilts, their paper & digital quilts - some of which she has created back into quilts. Each artist has written a statement about their work.

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