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Talk / Lecture

Community Conversations: Patrisse Cullors, noé olivas, Cindy Bonaparte, and Nena Soul Fly

June 2, 2024 | 1:00PM - 5:00PM

IN PERSON/ OFF-SITE at Leimert Park

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Fowler artist-in-residence Patrisse Cullors leads an afternoon of art making, spirituality, and celebration in Leimert Park.

1–3 pm: Clay workshop with Nena Soul Fly

Join us for a clay workshop with artist Nena Soul Fly: mold small containers for the orishas (divinities) Osun (associated with fertility, love, and prosperity) and Egbe (heavenly mates who dwell in the stars). Nena will discuss how to house and contain spirits in the body, on land, and in objects so as to support physical and mental health. By deepening our connection to water and stars, she suggests, we can better meet the changes and challenges we face.

4–5 pm: Performance

To mark the end of her artist residency and the Community Conversations series curated for the Fowler, Cullors will lead an Ifá-based ritual and performance accompanied by artists noé olivas and Cindy Bonaparte.

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Patrisse Cullors is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, artist, and abolitionist from Los Angeles, CA. Her work has been featured at The Broad, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Frieze LA, Hammer Museum, Fowler Museum at UCLA, and a host of theaters, galleries, and museums across the globe. Cullors has won numerous awards for her art and activism. In 2020, she launched a one-of-a-kind, online MFA program at Prescott College. She also launched the Crenshaw Dairy Mart with fellow artists noé olivas and ali reza dorriz. Her current work and practice focus on “Abolitionist Aesthetics,” a term she coined to help challenge artists and cultural workers to aestheticize abolition. Cullors is an Ifá practitioner who blends spirituality and abolition in her everyday life. Her mission is to grow toward abolition through intergenerational healing work that centers love, collective care, and art.

Nena Soul Fly (Tanya Melendez) is a Los Angeles native of Puerto Rican descent. She is an Iyanifa (priestess of Ifá), Olorisa Osun (priestess of Osun), and Egbe Initiate. Born into Ifá on both sides of her family, she has studied Ifá for 25 years, traveling to and from Nigeria since 2016.

Melendez is a self-taught, multi-disciplinary artist focused on social justice and women of color. She is also a world-renowned celebrity hair stylist who has worked with Alicia Keys, Bad Bunny, and Tyler the Creator, Li Saumet, Sasha Taylor Barnes, Simone Biles, Aunjanue Ellis, Donald Glover, and Ava DuVernay to name a few. Ten years ago, she launched her jewelry and accessory line, Nena Soul Fly.

noé olivas lives and works in Los Angeles, California, on occupied Tongva land. He received his MFA from USC, and his BFA from UC San Diego. Alongside Patrisse Cullors and alexandre ali reza dorriz, olivas is the co-founder of the Crenshaw Dairy Mart, an artists collective in Inglewood, California.  

His work has been exhibited at the Candlewood Festival, Borrego Springs; Hammer Museum; The FRONT Arte y Cultura gallery, San Ysidro; Open Mind Art Space; Residency Art Gallery; and Charlie James Gallery, among others. 

Cindy Bonaparte is an artist and educator engaged with Eastern and Afro-Indigenous healing philosophies. Her practice includes sculpture, ceramics, collage, and installations that depict connections to land, ancestry, and home. Working across disciplines, she focuses on a return to the uncommodified aspects of our relationship with the earth and energy exchange as a form of currency. Bonaparte uses natural materials, such as fabric, paper, and clay, to examine the tension between honoring heritage and Afro-Indigenous practices in a world driven by modernity. Bonaparte’s work has been featured in solo and group presentations at Crenshaw Dairy Mart, Sovern LA, L.A. County Arts, and Charlie James Gallery. Bonaparte is a recipient of the California Arts Council’s Individual Artist Fellowship Award for emerging artists (2023). She currently is the artist–in–residence at Sovern LA, where she curated the interactive group exhibition Sowing Seeds of Care and Refusal.

Program will be held outside KAOS Network in Leimert Park Village: 4343 Leimert Park Blvd

Special thanks to our co-sponsors LA Commons and KAOS Network.

Community Conversations are co-curated with artist and abolitionist Patrisse Cullors, in conjunction with the Fowler’s 2023 exhibition The House Was Too Small: Yoruba Sacred Arts from Africa and Beyond. These dialogues bring together community partners, leaders, artists, and Ifa practitioners to explore and celebrate the orisha divinities who play a vital part in our everyday lives.

This program is funded by the Nissan Foundation and co-sponsored by the Center for Religion and Cities at Morgan State University, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. Co-curation of this program is part of Patrisse Cullors’ artist residency at the Fowler Museum.




Image L-R: Cindy Bonaparte, noé olivas, Nena Soul Fly, and Patrisse Cullors (photograph by Star Montana)

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