Singer and artist Solange launches free library of rare books by black authors | Smart News


Singer-songwriter and visual artist Solange has launched a free library of rare works by black authors, available to borrow on a first come, first served basis.
Illustration photo by Meilan Solly / Photo by Rick Kern, WireImage via Getty Images / Background image courtesy of Saint Heron

Since its founding in 2013, Saint Heron, the creative studio run by musical and visual artist Solange, has produced otherworldly performances, podcasts and video installations. But his latest project is perhaps the most ambitious: Starting this month, the studio’s website will act as a free library of rare and out-of-print books from historians, writers, poets and artists. black.

The Saint Heron Community Library made its debut on Monday, reports the Black Information Network (BIN). Through the online portal, anyone in the United States can borrow a selection of 50 art anthologies, collections of poems, zines, novels, history books and other titles curated by Rosa Duffy, founder of Bookstore Duffy. ‘Atlanta For Keeps Books.

Singer and artist Solange launches free library of rare books by black authors

A selection of securities available for borrowing via

Courtesy of Saint Héron

Each loan lasts 45 days. Users are limited to verifying one headline each, as instructed on the Saint Heron Instagram page. (By Tuesday, all of the books in the library had already been reserved, which led at least one Instagram commenter to inquire about a waiting list.) The books will be sent to readers’ homes with the cost of shipping and handling. return included in the shipping costs, thus ensuring the service remains free, reports Valentina Di Liscia for Hyperallergic.

The available volumes include a first signed edition of In our terrible (1970), an experimental collection of photographs and poems by avant-garde artist Amiri Baraka; a signed copy of Julianna Free The head (1996), which contains “[m]editions on darkness and femininity through prose and photography ”, by Saint Heron; a copy of the poet Langston Hughes’ 1942 Shakespeare in Harlem; Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Series Children coming home (1991); several collections of poems by feminist critic Audre Lorde; 1984 novel by science fiction author Octavia Butler Clay arch; and art books on Fred Wilson, Martin Puryear, and Adrian Piper, among others.

References to black lights appear throughout the collection. Authors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, for example, have listed their anthology copy My only good nerve: rhythms, rhymes, reasons to the poet Maya Angelou, reports Jem Aswad for Variety.

“We hope that by encountering these works, our community will be inspired to further explore and study the breadth of artistic expression and the impact of darkness in creative innovation throughout history,” the studio writes on his website.

Through Variety, the initial launch, or “season one,” of the community library runs until the end of November. A second season is coming up, so those who failed to rent a book this time around will have more opportunities to do so in the future. Once the books are returned to the community library, they will become part of the “permanent collection” of Saint Heron, notes Hyperallergic.

In an interview with the Saint Heron website, Duffy told studio editorial director Shantel Pass that she feels frustrated when out-of-print or historical texts by black authors are prohibitively expensive or kept in inaccessible archives. .

“If you are not invited to these [archives] or you don’t feel invited into these spaces – which black people often aren’t – you may feel like this stuff doesn’t belong to you, like you don’t have the right to get your hands on it, and it’s behind closed doors, ”adds Duffy.

Solange (also known by her full name, Solange Knowles), is the younger sister of famous singer Beyoncé. She was critically acclaimed for her albums A place at the table (2016) and When I come back home (2019), both of which blend elements of rap, soul and alternative R&B with eclectic electronic sounds.

Apart from these outings, Solange has branched out into the visual arts, creating digital and performance art that often incorporates her music or lyrics. In 2017, for Tate Modern in London, she created a digital gallery on black femininity inspired by the art of Betye Saar. Solange has also performed with casts of black dancers at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, which houses dozens of minimalist sculptures by Donald Judd.

As Antwaun Sargent reported for Area magazine last year, Solange draws inspiration from her mother’s impressive collection of noir art, as well as art she saw when growing up in Houston, including the famous Rothko Chapel of the Menil Collection.

In a statement cited by Variety, Solange says that the community library project “seeks[s] to create an archive of stories and works that we deem valuable.

The artist adds: “These works expand the imagination, and it is vital for us to make them accessible to students and our communities for research and engagement, so that the works are integrated into our collective history and belong and grow with us. I look forward to the Saint Heron Library continually growing and evolving and … becoming a sacred space for literature and expressions for years to come.

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