Hello and welcome. Displayed here are a selection of artworks, photographs, mixed-media and collages created by Sheree Angela Matthews; artist + teacher + creativity enthusiast. Visit the store to find out how to buy.
‘It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness. ‘ Austin Channing Brown
My last post, Black Fatigue, was written in a moment of anger, hence all the mistakes. Not mistakes in the argument or feelings but in the spellings and grammar. But I make no apologies. Sometimes it’s good for the soul, or good for me to let the anger out that I’m carrying around, moment to moment, daily.
It’s probably one of the rare occasions, I’ve allowed myself to vent as I have learned through years and experiences being an angry Black woman gets me nowhere. But the flip side, where has being an amicable and amenable Black woman got me? Probably well down the road of mental health issues and questionable wellbeing.
A week on, and I’m still sick and tired of the things playing out in my life as I move through this world in the body of a Black woman but still not recognised or treated as a fellow human being. I could even say that things have gotten worse as with time, more slights and ignorance and lack of awareness of their actions and inactions accumulate. Continue to accumulate as I get older but also as I attempt and fight to be met eye to eye with others as a human being deserving of living and striving within this world.
I oscillate between exhaustion and anger. Being depleted and fired up. And the worse thing of all is those that cause this suffering are oblivious to it. And even when I take the time and energy to point it out to them, how their actions are being unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and not seeing the situation in it’s totality they get on the defensive, do not engage with the issue, but deflect it away with comments like, ‘ I won’t engage with you when you’re being so aggressive.’
I stand by my post Black Fatigue. I just wish I’d mentioned emotional labour too. I can see now, as I reach 50 years old this year, that I have spent my lifetime trying to fit in. That means trying to be white. That is the only way to be let / given an inch in this game/ society/ life. I’m expected to be white because this is the cultural way of being. White people believe being white is right and good. Anything ‘other’ is wrong and should do everything right to become more white.
Now as I continue to question this standard, the way of operating in society, in the world, I’m going to become more and more angry and exhausted because I’m constantly being judged for being a Black female in a world made for whiteness. Everywhere I turn, in the street, on social media, on the TV, my self-esteem is being chipped away while living with the disparities in job opportunities, health care, education, and in the justice system. And I’m supposed to be happy and grateful when someone white talks about diversity and offers a crumb as if it’s taking a risk. And then if I have the audacity to ask for more, there’s tears.
I’ve taken a break from social media as I was falling into the comparison spiral trap as well as putting pressure on myself to produce. But I see now what I was doing was performing. This is my pain and this is my joy. I was striving for the viewer, for you, to see me, treat me, like a fellow human being. It appears it’s the only dance I know. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be white at the same time as trying to convince/explain/ argue that I’m worthy, that I’m a fully functioning and feeling human being who deserves to be here for your discarded crumb. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.
I’m taking back control and my power so I can control my rage. Not to protect others but myself. I’ve got to make sure now that my anger doesn’t destroy me. I’m putting in emotional labour with me, for me now.
Not even two week gone yet since I’ve had surgery on my spine and there’s a voice in my head saying you should be doing more. You should be further along in your recovery.
I didn’t sleep well last night, if at all. So I’m going through my day being super critical and super negative in my outlook. Today, I can do no good. Nothing right.
Before I allow myself to wallow any further or spiral downwards any further, I need to shift my energy.
I get creative. I’ll be sharing a new series over the weekend but for now not only getting into the creative flow helped but also considering what I’ve already achieved this year, helped in an upward swing in my thinking, self-reflection.
This year saw me complete not one, not two, but three ‘100 day projects’. This has never been the case before. I’ve never been able to complete one #100dayprojects before never mind three!
So what was different this year in my approach, my thinking, my practice?
I’m not sure if I can pin it down to one thing as I do believe it was a combination of things, such as timing, tasks, enjoyment, accountability to self etc. But I think the main reason came down to my perspective. I set the challenges, I chose the focus, the timeframes, the mediums. I was in control but more importantly I was doing it all for me. I wasn’t completing a daily piece of art for anyone else, for their approval or appreciation. I was doing it for me and how it made me feel while doing it.
Stuff the end product it was all about the process and how for that time I set aside to create all self-criticism and doubts and fears were turned way down low, to nearly a whisper.
So I’m taking this process and applying it again when the self-criticism and doubts and fears rear their ugly heads during my recovery stage. I’m getting creative, luxuriating in the flow because here I happy and at peace and in the flow.
I sent out a studio note in the past week about my current situation of going through unexpected spine surgery and now taking the time to recover. I thought I’d share it here also so we all on the same page.
I’m the Obeah woman from beneath the sea
To get to satan you gotta pass through me
‘Cause I know the angels name by name
I can eat thunder and drink the rain
Been through enough
Yeah they call me Nita and Pices too
There ain’t nothing that I can’t do
If I choose to, if you let me – Nina Simone
This is my time of year. I’ve always loved Autumn since I was a child and taking as many different routes to school as possible to kick through the leaves.
There’s a crisp freshness to the air. Yes you can see your breath as you breathe out but you can also feel your fingers and toes getting cold. Your nose feeling the chill. There’s nothing like this time of year to bring you into the present moment.
October is my birthday month. The Black Moon in Libra was at the end of September marking the mid-point in the annual horoscope cycle. Libra, my sign, the sign of beauty and balance, is totally me as I seek both within my life with a passion.
This is a time when I will spend weighing up what has happened, what I have done so far along my path of enlightenment and authenticity. I intend to savour these moments of chill and beauty. Not rush off and make new plans for the future ( although I did make a couple yesterday. More to follow here!!). I try to refrain from doing and instead being.
This is a starting point, yes, but to pause, reflect, rebalance.