ChE (pronoun- they/ them/ their) is a Queer GNC Afro-Indigenous artivist working at the intersections of youth leadership development, cultural equity consulting, and socially engaged artmaking. A reflection of their expansive identity, ChE crosses genre as a multidisciplinary artist, utilizing mediums that include installation, choreography, sound, procession, participatory ritual, storytelling, mixed-media painting, food, and altar-building. ChE is an honored Fellow for the 2017/2018 Intercultural Leadership Institute, celebrating their unique intersectional justice framework, Afro-Indigenous Liberatory Praxis, rooted in multigenerational wisdom sharing, cross-sector arts-organizing, race and gender justice. As a 2016/2017 Brown University, Black Spatial Relics Artist-in-Residence, ChE is partnering with the Center for Slavery & Justice to deepen their research of the ring shout as a subversive form of Afro-Indigenous cultural resistance and resilience amidst the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Highlighting the Nightingale Brown family’s relationship to slavery, ChE is developing a participatory performance ritual conjuring invisibilized narratives through ancestral movement, ring shout rhythms, storytelling, and community procession at this historically charged house. This is part of an art action series from ChE’s currently unfolding multidisciplinary Black Lives Matter platform, #DignityInProcess, merging art activism, ancestral healing, and intersectional identity evolution within the Afro-Indigenous Diaspora. Afro-futures emerge through this series of site-specific performances, Afro-Indigenous Wisdom Councils, and Freedom Schools celebrating the dignity of Black evolution. #DignityInProcess has made its way to the California Bay Area, New York, and New Orleans with featured guest artists including the award-winning Yeye Luisah Teish, African percussionist Baba Luther, and Black Panther, Mariama Curry.
ChE is the recipient of the University of California Irwin Award for artistic excellence, graduating with honors from UC Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Art. They are an awardee of the Southern University of New Orleans’ 2016 Social Innovation Certification for Artists at M.A. Museum Studies Program. They have a background receiving mentorship from Dr. E.G. Crichton in Intermedia/ Installation, Vivien Bassouamina in Traditional Congolese Dance, Byb Chanel Bibene in Contemporary Congolese Dance, and Claudine Naganuma in Modern Dance and Corvino Ballet Technique. ChE has garnered invaluable experience honing their technique as a principal dancer in Kiandanda Dance Theater, an Afro-Contemporary/ Congolese dance company; and dNaga Dance Company, a multigenerational dance troupe centering Modern Dance and Ballet. As a director/ choreographer, ChE’s work is robust with gospel soul sounds and movement of the African Diaspora that leave feet stomping and hands clapping—fusing Contemporary Modern, Afro-house, and Congolese dance with multi-generational storytelling and interactive installation. ChE has been an artist-in-residence with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Spirit Garden Productions, Press Street Gallery, Dancing Grounds, One Love Nola, and Destiny Arts Center.
In 2013 ChE launched Breathe-In Liberation, an incubator for Queer and Trans activists-of-color to practice embodied leadership and healing justice. Through this platform, ChE partnered with Destiny Arts Center and founded the Art Liberation Troupe, a QTPOC youth performance group utilizing dance, street theatre, and youth-led arts activism workshops as tools for social change. A consultant in race/ gender justice and movement integrated curriculum design, ChE has most recently worked with Destiny Arts Center, Healthy Initiatives for Youth, BAYC Our Space, Alameda Head Start, Dancing Grounds, and Emerging Arts Professionals. In 2015, ChE served as the curator, lead trainer and facilitator for The Breaking the Silence Town Hall (BTSTH): Teen Salon, offering a guerilla theatre space centering LGBTQ+ and young womxn of color. The Town Hall was part of a national series of African American Policy Forum convenings focused on elevating the experiences of women and girls of color across a range of issues including police violence, criminalization, school pushout, sexual assault, domestic violence and poverty. ChE is the creator of the Underground Railroad: Liberatory Coaching for Creative Radicals of Color, a yearlong virtual coaching cohort supporting (QT)POC artists, activists, and innovators in manifesting their visions for collective liberation. ChE is also the co-founder and co-host of Spirit Medicine with CarmenLeah Ascencio, a BGD podcast that focuses on providing accessible conversations, tools and rituals that support the healing, wellness and liberation of people of color, with a focus on queer and trans people of color. Listen at https://www.bgdblog.org/category/wellness/