I Am Conscious, I Am Love

I Am Conscious, I Am Love: Declaring Our Presence, an installation by William Estrada, features sculptural work that reclaims public space as a sanctuary and a place for communion; a place to listen, a place to think, a place to talk, and a place to laugh while connecting guests through conversation.

Declaring Our Presence is an exhibition that is collaborative in spirit and democratic in practice. Through text, image, and sculpture, Estrada provides an intentional resource for guests to activate the exhibition through discussion and programmed activities. Declaring Our Presence is the second installation of I Am Conscious, I Am Love, a two-part series of site-responsive and site-specific installations staged publicly as a space for discovery, conversation, and collective strengthening.

I Am Conscious, I Am Love: Mother’s Reflection, an installation by Amina Ross, features sculptural works that explore legacy, inheritance, and femme-folk practices. Mother’s Reflection is the first installation of I Am Conscious, I am Love a two-part series of site-responsive and site-specific installations staged publicly as a space for discovery, conversation, and collective strengthening.

You are busying yourself

Erasing me

Is this your grief?

You remove all evidence of my existence…

But I live in the blood of the witches that you try to ward off with that cross,

They watch,

from the edge of the bonfire,

whispering their incantations

They see my flesh singed,

But know that I can not die,

For I live in them

Strong, spiritual, persistent

The stench does not throw them off,

their meditations continue

ceaseless prayers,

hands counting beads

There’ll be no martyr tonight

- Bernadith Russell

Taking cues from her mother, Ross is prompted by Russell’s poem to call upon familial, matriarchal traditions. As homes represent legacies, Ross explores shared space within community and ancestral histories. Who was here before? Who is here now? Who will come after? Labor, material wealth, lineage, and the spiritual realm find form through Ross’s sculptural works.

Enlarged floral barrettes emerge from the soil become signifiers of childhood and hairstyling traditions in Black culture, passed down through generations. A recessed flag brings into question nationhood, patriotic pride, and systems of oppression that oust and erase marginalized communities and counterculture practices. A weathervane is guided by ancestral wisdom, reclaiming femme-folk practices and perseverance against dominant religious and economic paradigms. The intimate relationships between patterns, colors, and texture of visual and written language combine signifiers through abstractions of home and space.

Presented by Terrain Exhibitions and Chicago Artists' Coalition.