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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Time for culture that feels inclusive of underserved art patrons
Culture Queens raises comfort level
 
Published Wednesday, September 25, 2019 12:04 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | JEFF CRAVOTTA
Culture Queens, founded by Jennifer Michelle, is a means for art enthusiasts to experience Charlotte’s creative pulse with a sense of sisterhood.

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Jennifer Michelle wants women of color to feel at home in Charlotte’s cultural institutions.


She created Culture Queens as a means for art enthusiasts to gather and experience the city’s creative pulse with a sense of sisterhood.


“I started Culture Queens because I started going to the galleries,” Michelle said. “At first, when I visited a museum, I would look around and I was intimidated, but I noticed that I was always the only woman of color there. I could not figure out for the life of me why are more people not here?”


Michelle took the approach of strength in numbers to alleviate the usual factors that may cause someone to hesitate visiting a museum or a gallery.


“I feel like it’s partly intimidation and part education and exposure,” she said. “That’s what we’re doing with Culture Queens.”


The group has a private tour set for Oct. 9 at Hodges Taylor Art Consultancy to explore the work of artist Cristina Córdova in the exhibit “CRISTINA CÓRDOVA: cuerpo exquisite.”


“I went to the opening night for it, and I was absolutely blown away—amazed,” Michelle said. “The pieces that are there are from a Latino woman, and she is one of the most amazing artists I have ever seen. Every piece I looked at I was mesmerized. I was in love with it because it actually reminded me of me—I could see myself. It’s called ‘exquisite body,’ that’s the English translation. Cristina has done an amazing job.”


From sculptures to paintings, the exhibit explores the phases of humanity.


“For Culture Queens, the idea is to build a relationship and make the women more comfortable with going to art museums,” Michelle said. “Now, instead of me having to do the tour, or them feeling like they can’t go, they just grab a friend and they go themselves. That’s building the effect of now we’re in the room.”


The Culture Queens head to the Elizabeth neighborhood for the opening reception and artist lecture of “Blur: A Community Portrait Project” by Atlanta based photographer Melissa Alexander and curated by Jonell Logan of Charlotte. The reception is Oct. 24 at Central Piedmont Community College’s Ross Art Gallery. Alexander held portrait sessions at the institution last month. “Blur” runs Oct 16 through Dec. 12.


“This one is very important to me, because one, it’s a woman of color this time that we get to celebrate,” Michelle said. “The exhibit is actually a community project. I’m excited to see the different faces, and how she’s going to showcase those.”


The journey has just begun for Culture Queens.


“We started at the Mint Museum on Randolph [Road] with five members, on Feb. 14,” Michelle said. “Now we’re at 40 members, and we’ve toured the Gantt Center. We’ve toured the McColl Center. They’ve all been welcoming. They’ve all accepted us, and they have provided the best tours. They’re not just educating us on art, but educating us on their facilities.”


The group is open to men and children as well.


For more information: https://itsjennifermichelle.com/culture-queens

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