Decolonized Poetry Takes Center Stage in an Exhibit at Good Mother Gallery

With representation and reclamation at the forefront of whistling the avant-garde, Tempestt is interested in blurring — and completely erasing — the lines between Eurocentric art values.

“Because ‘avant-garde’ is French, it’s allotted to whiteness,” she says. “By crossing out the term and simultaneously using it, I’m queering and reclaiming it. My vision is to showcase and celebrate that artists and poets of color don’t have to wait for others to catch up. We’re going to take up space, claim what’s rightfully ours and power forward.”

In addition to art contributions from Thad Higa, Brian Kwon, Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta, Lyn Patterson, Crismerly Santibañez and Alexandra Velasco, the space will offer generative sessions, poetry workshops and discussions on craft and poetics — including “Look at the Moon! Intuition for Artists of Color Workshop” with the poet Mihee Kim.

Though aimed at uplifting marginalized voices, particularly women, femme and trans writers, the gallery is open to everyone, and encourages cross-cultural discussions by engaging with poems presented as visual art, performance and multimedia practices.

“I got curious about what [these poets] would do if I offered them the playground of the exhibition,” Tempestt says. “Some of the artists I’ve worked with or known for years. Others were beautiful accidents that landed on my lap.” 

whistling the avant-garde’ will be on view May 13–June 2 at Good Mother Gallery (408 13th St., Oakland). The series kicks off with a poetry reading on Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m. and the closing event will take place Friday, June 2 at 7 p.m.

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