Written by Preston Choi, Literary & Public Programs Assistant
The King of Cups. The Six of Pentacles. The Page of Swords.
From these three tarot cards Jasmine Barber divines that a giving and taking is in order.
This is true not just for the person getting their cards read, but for the Victory Garden’s lobby as a whole.
On Thursday June 30th, #Lemonade, a celebration of black girl magic took place at Victory Gardens. The lobby swelled with audience members and artists, creators and witnesses side by side. The painting pictured above began at the start of the evening as an outline in the sketchbook of Tita Thomas, but as the event began to gather steam, so did her painting. Paint smeared, water poured, and by the end of the night a blank canvas became a dialogue between Beyonce’s album and and the women artist’s work being done in the theater.
At a nearby table Jasmine Barber read people’s cards, tarot cards. A form of divination dating back hundreds of years, for the purposes of guidance and understanding. She mutters the inquirer’s question under her breath as she shuffles the cards before she reveals them to her eager audience. Not too far away, up a flight of stairs, another spiritual service was being provided. Angelique Nelson gave Reiki massages, quietly away from the crowd. The Reiki healing technique involves the channeling of energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate natural healing processes.
As black girl magic was seen and felt, so was it heard. The first to the mic was Ireon Roach, First Place in the 2016 August Wilson Monologue Competition, who in 30 minutes that day, had created a spoken word piece for the evening titled ‘Speak’. “This energy doesn’t come easy,” a simple yet powerful phrase, one of many within her stream of consciousness.
Kristiana Rae Colón performed after; Colón recently had her play “florissant & canfield” in VG’s reading series. Among her words, a quote, ‘just because we’re not magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real’. An echo to the recent speech given by Jesse Williams at the BET awards. While Ireon’s words spoke from the world of young women, Kristiana spoke from the experience of a grown woman; A slow burning bonfire in contrast to the verbal spitfire fireworks.
The night ended in song and call and response led by Kiara Lanier. The music began and she started barefoot, taking out her birth control pills and leaving them behind in a pile of dirt. Then grabbing the mic her voice serenaded the room, calling on them to speak with her, sing with her. A clap rhythm began and all energy focused in, together.
The song came to a close, the last cards were shuffled, and with the painting finished, The House That Will Not Stand was ready to begin. From the contemporary to the historical, #blackgirlmagic is alive and thriving and beautiful.