b. Brooklyn, New York, 1981
Make Safe Make Space, 2014.
Fourteen archival digital prints. Approx. 14 x 11 inches each.
Courtesy of the artist.
Make Safe Make Space is a project led by Nsenga Knight in the summer of 2014 while an artist-in-residence at Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. Conceived in the wake of the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and inspired by the Civil Rights era sit-in movement that began in Greensboro, Knight invited more than forty black community members to engage with Safe Place, a fabric fortress installation by artist Leslie Kalman on view at Elsewhere Museum. Their conversations touched on historical and prevailing issues of safety affecting black communities, and sought to explore connections between perceptions of physical safety and psychological well-being. As an act of transformative intervention, Make Safe Make Space collaborators collectively restructured Safe Place by adding a window, new flooring, and resecured walls.
As an extension of this work, Knight created a series of lithographs that contain text abstracted from documented conversations with the project’s collaborators. The texts are intentionally slippery, weaving together language used to guide the physical transformations of the Safe Place installation and more poetic phrases meant to inspire social action.