press release

June 17–December 30, 2022


Naomi Chambers, Renée Cox, Mary Martin, LaKeisha Wolf, Alisha B Wormsley, sarah huny young

The Mattress Factory (MF), Sibyls Shrine and Pittsburgh-based artist and curator Jessica Gaynelle Moss present SHRINE, a tripartite program that uplifts and recognizes Black m/others, artists, creatives, and activists by honoring creation of sacred spaces as sites of resistance and liberation struggle.

SHRINE, through December 30, 2022, includes new immersive installations by six artists who bridge ancient practices with technology, the spiritual and physical, and the artificial and natural worlds. SHRINE provides insight into each artist’s process and practice of resistance, self-love and preservation. MF’s Monterey Annex is transformed into a site of renewal, discovery and personal and collective healing.

Naomi Chambers’ Mommies Vs. Aunties is playful, rooted in health, wellness and personal goal-building. A simulated soccer field, concrete cones and a television of Chambers coaching other Black mothers/aunts with life skills (juggling = balancing work/play) stand before an enormous goal, inviting the viewer to work through personal battles and celebrate accomplishments.

Reneé Cox explores Black identity through photography, collage, and video, using the body to displace religious symbols from white-centric paradigms. With Soul Culture, Cox collaborated with SoulRounded, an interdisciplinary team of Carnegie Mellon University students. Working alongside Cox over 14 weeks, this collaboration designed and developed new works using Cox’s Soul Culture imagery, featuring projection mapping and other interactive technologies.

Mary Martin’s A Constant Struggle for Reciprocity hosts a tea ceremony in a calming blue-hued room, full of small objects and vessels of clay, wood, fiber and glass. These serve as containers of spiritual and physical realms with abilities to both give and receive. This reciprocity is demonstrated through use of the double spouted vessels and intertwined weaving techniques.

In LaKeisha Wolf’s How Deep Is Your Love, brightly colored cotton string takes up space, stretching across rooms as reminders of personal and spiritual growth. The environment is further charged by gemstones, crystals, salts and other natural elements that activate the senses. The centerpiece is Wolf’s medicine wheel, made up of sustainably harvested plant medicines.

Alisha B Wormsley’s work focuses on a “thriving radical Black dimension.” Remnants, Portals and Power: The Afterlife is a portal to a meditative void; a point of departure to a safe Black realm. This piece offers glimpses into family dreamscapes, sister and m/other-hood and science fiction. Audiences are greeted by opera singer Li Harris’ “Pythia Is A Black Girl’s Name.” Wall projection and modified salon chairs feature excerpts from Wormsley’s “children of NAN” archive.

sarah huny young’s 7 is a lush, grotto sanctuary blanketed with vines of ivy, eucalyptus, and wisteria housing photographs of six towering Black goddesses who live harmoniously where cultural lines are nonexistent. Each goddess ties into motherhood, fertility, vengeance and rage. “7”, a symbolic number, is used by the artist to remind “every Black woman who steps in this space that self-preservation begins with a worship within one’s self...”

SHRINE also brings art to the community with two additional programs:
–SANCTUARY, a free block-party, held on June 17, 2022 to honor local Black entrepreneurs and small businesses. Featured artists: Schereéya, Marietta Altenor, Dail Chambers, Nikki Delice, Chere Gordon, Desa Kishar, and Tiara LaShawna.
–ALTAR, an experimental satellite gallery engages the broader public across display boards throughout Pittsburgh. Artists: Tara Fay Coleman, Olivia Guterson, Anqwenique Kinsel, Tsedaye Makonnen and janera solomon. Runs through August 31, 2022.

SHRINE includes written contributions by poet Camille Posey, writer janera solomon and editor Gwendolyn Mitchell, and features Public Programs by artists Dail Chambers and Alecia Dawn Young. The exhibition’s visual branding was designed by artist and MF Designer, Cori Robinson.