Yellow As Survival #diasporaloves
Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo is a Bay Area based artist, curator, arts educator, activist, and if you haven't yet had the pleasure of being pulled into her IRL orbit- an absolute forcefield of power, compassion and community building.
I first encountered Lukaza's 'A Manifesto for As Bright As Yellow' earlier this summer on Instagram. I was knee deep in customs documentation for Diaspora Co., this fledgling business that was part color study, part wildly idealistic scheme, and part long-time-coming journey to reclaim power within the food system and India. I read the manifesto and just kept coming back to it- Lukaza had painted and articulated a feeling that had been living inside me for a long time, and in that articulation- she was offering up power and weight to emotion in a way that only an artist is able.
To me, yellow is turmeric, is saffron, is mangoes, is bananas, is passion, is courage, is the color of childhood, of India, and of how I was raised. When I first approached Lukaza, and got to talk to her some more about this piece, something we both agreed on, was that so many of our shared yellow cultural symbols had also become symbols of the exotic, or viewed through a colonial gaze of consumption. Her Afro-Brazilian heritage and my Indian one were both bookmarked by fruit, and by color but without reclamation or cultural context, they were so often lumped into tropes of western visual vocabulary that totally degraded their significance and power.
This very impromptu, came-together-in-15-minutes installation around 'A Manifesto for As Bright As Yellow', was an attempt at reclaiming our respective cultural contexts for yellow. We weren't sure what it would be, or how it would come together, but in doing it at all, I look at these images, and feel grounded in the work towards creating the aesthetics of decolonization we want to see in the world.
And I feel so grateful for Lukaza's voice and presence within the art community, for creating, articulating and visualizing the words that we most need right now.