The Black Artist Waystation is a private sector initiative to increase the visibility and support of Black artists in Lancaster. Presented by YWCA Lancaster, our aim is to be a catalyst for artists who create works that define the movement toward freedom and recognize the many efforts that brought us to this moment. We are exploring the link between Lancaster as a waystation on the Underground Railroad and the freedom seekers who rested here; to the struggle for freedom that continues today including the Black Lives Matter movement and the many moments in between of excellence, beauty, and joy.
The Underground Railroad was an organized resistance to enslavement and white supremacy through escape and flight. Wherever slavery existed, there were efforts to escape. These acts of self-emancipation labeled the enslaved as “fugitives,” “escapees,” or “runaways,” but today the name, “freedom seeker” is a more accurate description. Many freedom seekers began their journey unaided and many completed their self-emancipation without assistance, but each subsequent decade in which slavery was legal in the United States, there was an increase in active efforts to assist escape. The Underground Railroad was an allegory for the pathways and waystations from enslavement to freedom and Lancaster was a part of the story.
Art is part of every movement for social justice. From the African American spirituals sung on forced labor camps throughout the South, to today’s films chronicling the lives and struggle of Black men and women; from the songs of resistance performed by Nina Simone to the activist and artist John Legend; Black Artists have been a major foundation of civil rights and liberation movements worldwide.
Join the 2021 Black Artist Waystation Reveal-Juneteenth Waystation Presentations – TBA
Conductors for the inaugural year of the program include:
Javi Suarez was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Sarasota, Florida when he was 10. The son of an architect, Javi has followed in his father’s footsteps, but art has been his first love. The diversity of his family’s background has inspired a variety of interests and ideas that are developed in his work. He has been a professional artist since 1998 and works primarily in mixed media on canvas. Javi’s work has been shown at private studios and galleries in California, Florida and Puerto Rico. It is also displayed in several private and public collection.
Elimu Nelson is a film and television actor, writer and producer based in Los Angeles. Widely known for his role as heartthrob Dru Hilton in the hit film Love Don’t Cost A Thing, additional television roles include Modern Family, Castle, House Of Lies, Criminal Minds, Hit The Floor, The Shield and Private Practice.
Zetta Elliott is a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. She was born and raised in Canada, but has lived in the US for over 20 years including a recent stint in Lancaster, PA.
Julia Mallory is a multi-hyphenated creative with a current focus on text and textiles. She is a six-time author, including two children’s books. In addition, she is the founder of the creative literary arts brand, Black Mermaids.
She serves as the Senior Poetry Editor for Raising Mothers and hosts the Stop Shrinking Socialcast. She has served on numerous panels and as a workshop facilitator. Most recently she delivered the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Address for Stephens College, titled “Dreaming of the Now Future: A Reckoning”.
She has a Bachelor of Science from Elizabethtown College and completed her graduate studies at Eastern University. She is the mother of three children and lives in southcentral Pennsylvania. Her latest book, Survivor’s Guilt, is a collection of poetry, prose, and photographs that address the personal and public realities of grief.
Check out: www.blackmermaids.com
Meet the Black Artist Nominees
Marion “Coco” Coleman
Tyrell “TeeTos” Hoff
Julia Jordan Kamanda
Terian L. Mack
Dominique Jordan Miller
Shelby & Jordan Wormley