Sibyls Shrine

Artist

Alisha B. Wormsley

Date

2020-2023

Location

Greater Pittsburgh, PA

Introduction

Sibyls Shrine​ is a new artist residency program created by artist Alisha B. Wormsley for Black women, womxn, trans women, and femmes (Womxn) who are mothers and identify as artists, creatives, and/or activists in Pittsburgh. Four residency programs will provide support to both Pittsburgh-based Black Womxn and visiting artists from outside the region.

Background

Sibyls Shrine is an homage to the Sibyls, the original priestesses of the Black goddess Mami Wata. The term, which predates Greek history, was used to name the guardians of the Matriarchy. The Sibyls Shrine residency program is motivated by a similar goal: uplifting Black mothers with opportunities for self-care, childcare, space and support in an effort to further develop their craft and their presence in the art world.

For these Womxn, the challenges of parenting in combination with systemic racism and sexism are daunting, and make the barriers to a career in the arts insurmountable. The Sibyls Shrine residency program uplifts Black creative mothers with opportunities for skill-sharing, self-care, safe space, and financial support in an effort to further develop their craft and their presence in the arts.

Project Team

Artist Alisha B. Wormsley serves as the project’s Creative Director, and works in collaboration with Administrative Director Jessica Gaynelle Moss and Community Artist Liaison Naomi Chambers. Wormsley, Moss and Chambers are all Pittsburgh-based Black creative mothers. The Office of Public Art provides additional support as the Sibyls Shrine collaborating organization. Working mothers make up the entirety of the project team.

This program is funded in part by a grant from the Just Arts program of The Heinz Endowments.

Online Resources

Website

Learn more about the Sibyls Shrine residency.

About the Team

Alisha B. Wormsley is an interdisciplinary artist and cultural producer. Her work is about collective memory and the synchronicity of time, specifically through the stories of women of color. Wormsley’s work has been honored and supported with a number of awards and grants to support projects: The People Are The Light, afronaut(a) film and performance series, Homewood Artist Residency (recipient of the mayor’s public art award), the Children of NAN video art and archival project, There Are Black People in the Future body of work. Her national and international exhibitions include; the Mattress Factory Contemporary Museum, Art on the Bank in London, Octavia Butler conference at Spelman University, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Studio XX in Montreal, Project Row House and the Houston Art League in Texas, Rush Art gallery in NY, and the Charles Wright museum in Detroit. In the last few years her work in public art installation has grown with her design of art in parks and There are Black People In The Future billboard, the afronaut(a) film series, new public work, Streaming Space, a 24 foot pyramid with video and sound installed in Pittsburgh’s downtown Market Square and AWxAW a multi media interactive installation and film commission at the Andy Warhol Museum. Wormsley has an MFA in Film and Video from Bard College and was recently awarded the Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University.

Jessica Gaynelle Moss is an artist, independent curator and arts worker. She has an extensive background in production and fabrication, nonprofit leadership, and the advancement of equitable development. Jessica reimagines new frameworks and strategizes ways to build, maintain and sustain Black autonomous spaces devoted to the survival, resistance and healing of Black people. Her dedication to Black space stems from a housing redevelopment project that began in 2007 when she purchased a dilapidated property in a historic Black community and converted it into a creative community hub for Black artists and students. Jessica’s artwork is in the collections of The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Baltimore, The Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection (JFABC) and The University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC). She is the recipient of grants from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (2017), Foundation For The Carolinas (2019, 2020), The Arts & Science Council (2018, 2019, 2020), and The Heinz Endowment (2020). As an arts worker, Jessica has experience with a diverse roster of institutions including The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, Theaster Gates’ Rebuild Foundation in Chicago, IL, The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Art + Culture in Charlotte, NC and The Pittsburgh Foundation in Pittsburgh, PA. Jessica received a bachelors in Fine Art from Carnegie Mellon University; a masters in Arts Administration, Policy and Management from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and a masters in Studies of the Law from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Naomi Chambers is a Pittsburgh-based painter and assemblage artist; she also runs The Flower House in the Pittsburgh neighborhood Wilkinsburg. The Flower House is a community art studio and art center that responded to the needs of the balck community and families of Wilkinsburg by providing a space to create, learn, and gather. It is cultivated by group-centered artists who practice cooperative economics to empower women and families.

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“Sibyls Shrine is my dream project. My research has recently led me to the Combahee River Collective who say ‘If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free, since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all systems of oppression.’ It’s crucial for my spirit and arts practice to support the wholeness of Black women. This residency aims not only to support the careers of its residents but also their livelihood as they are one and the same.”

Alisha B. Wormsley

Image credits

Gallery, top:
(1) Sibyls Shrine logo, image courtesy artist; (2) Artist Alisha B. Wormsley, Sibyls Shrine Creative Director, photo courtesy artist; (3) Artist Jessica Moss, Sibyls Shrine Administrative Director, photo by Mitchell Kearney; (4) Artist Naomi Chambers, Sibyls Shrine Community Artist Liaison, photo courtesy artist.

Related

PROJECTS

There Are Black People In The Future Artwork-in-Residence

Eleven artists and educators explore the meaning and relevance of artist Alisha B. Wormsley’s text, “There Are Black People In The Future,” across media and disciplines.

PROJECTS

Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm

Artist projects address the evolving Covid-19 crisis by building pathways to rest, companionship and connection within communities most affected by the pandemic.

PROJECTS

Boots on the Sound: COVID-19

Artist-in-residence Ricardo Robinson partners with Rethink Vets to engage members of the post-9/11 veteran community in creative collaboration.