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The Black Woman is God transforms conventional notions of divinity through art

Courtesy of Karen Seneferu

Several years back, Oakland artist Karen Seneferu envisioned a communal space for art made by black women. At the time, there were very few galleries in the Bay Area exhibiting black artists, and even fewer hosting solo exhibitions for them. As a curator, she wanted to showcase an exhibition of emerging and veteran Black women artists, and create a new space for these women to tell their stories together—it would be called The Black Woman Is God.

Over the last five years, the art exhibit The Black Woman Is God has grown from a single art show to what’s been called a “movement-building platform.” This year’s iteration takes place in San Francisco and Oakland. And includes workshops, performances, artist talks, and a collection of works from over 80 intergenerational Black Women artists exploring the intersections of race, gender, spirituality, and art.  

"We're pushing back against those paradigms of dominance, and we’re doing that with, I think, the most powerful tool possible, which is the spirit."

The project is the creation of Oakland artist Karen Seneferu, who first envisioned a communal space for art made by black women with co-curator Melorra Green in 2012. They wanted to challenge the prevailing image of God as a white male, and to create space for dismantling racist and patriarchal notions that devalue Black women’s contributions to society.

Karen Seneferu stopped by the KALW studios to discuss The Black Woman Is God, and how her art stems from her own personal African cultural aesthetic.

You can check out The Black Woman is God at the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco, and other locations in the city and in Oakland, through the end of this month.