Momma’s Song

“Family Portrait” 9″ x 12″ Ink on Paper 2019

Roberta: -Knock, Knock-

Alfreda: Stop yo monster drawing Junior and get de door ya Momma still getting pretty fa de Doctor. 

Junior: Kay, Mamma. -pauses- When is Daddy comin back home?

Alfreda: Boy, ya Daddy be back same time as usual. -smiles- Now, get de door.

Junior: But, Mamma do I still get to name him?

Alfreda: Yes, baby. You’ll still get to name ya brother when he get here. Now, ain’t gon tell ya gain to let de Doctor in de house.

Junior: Yes, Momma.

Roberta: -Knock, Knock- Hello, is anybody home?

Junior: -opens door- Yes, Mx. Doctor. We here.

Roberta: Ohh, aren’t you jus de cutest thang. What’s your name young man?

Junior: Thank you Mx. Doctor, my Mamma be out in a second. And my name is Junior.

Roberta: -Sits bag down and pulls out tape recorder and pynk note pad- So, you in school Junior? 

Junior: Yes, I am in preschool. My Mamma said you be writing bout dem monsters in our family?

Roberta: Well, I like to call them Loc’s. But, I guess lots of folks refer ta…

Alfreda: -enters room- Hey Dr. Williams!

Roberta: Ohh, no call me Roberta, Ms. Alfreda. Plus, I am not a doctor yet, still finishing up my dissertation. 

Alfreda: -sits down holding belly- Ok, Roberta. Well, I guess you can call me Freet, everyone else does. Now, Junior go outside and play dis is grown folks business. 

Junior: Ok, Mamma! 

Alfreda: And, don’t be in dat tree Boy! Fo you break something!

Junior: Ok, Momma!

Alfreda: Love you buttons and button!

Junior: -Runs outside- Love you too Momma!

Alfreda: Told my husband to cut dat tree down Roberta. Before my baby gets hurt.

Roberta: Well, you have a beautiful family Freet. -smiles- And, I see another one is on de way.

Alfreda: Thank, you. Yes, one more month gurl, and dis one will be here. You got any babies?

Roberta: No, not yet. One day hopefully. Well, I guess we should get started Freet.

Alfreda: Yes, so you interested in knowin bout de Monsters in our family?

Roberta: Like, I was tellin ya Junior. I call dem Loc’s. But, yes I am interested in your family’s lineage possibly for a book -laughs- I hope to write one day. 

Alfreda: And, ya thank my Momma’s journals could help?  

Roberta: Yes, Freet! It would be a big help.

Alfreda: Well, like I told you over de phone dey were lost in a big flood. All we have left are memories.

Roberta: Dat’s not a problem, oral herstory is jus as valuable. If you could tell me anythang you remember Freet. -Presses red button to starts the tape recorder-

Alfreda: Back in da day. Momma usta ta tell all ha churen dat de only thangs us mortals or monsters, sorry Loc’s I mean ta say, had ta fear was de smoke rising. She said we all must prepare for a new miracle danced by a child in moonlight. 

Roberta: By smoke ya mean to say fragrance?

Alfreda: Yes, she said sum of dat smoke smelled sweet like blackberries.

Roberta: Yes, I have been getting lots of ya kin describing beautiful oders and such.

Alfreda: Mamma, had four girls and one boy. -Points to Family Portrait- While Daddy was out workin, she’d be cookin and telling us her tales. She’d sang and dance her words into de world. 

Roberta: Wow! So she’d be dancin too!

Alfreda: Yes, gurl! Momma’s tales won’t fo no nap in de makin! Dis was a show. She would sang.

-Singing in High Voice- 

Dis fragrance was de essence of their powers.

-One Clap-

First, they were bound by de Mortals.

-Two Claps-

Powers be Stripped. 

-One Clap-

Next, they were moved by the Shades.

-Two Claps-

Powers be Displaced. 

-One Clap-

Last, they were cropped by the Knights.

-Two Claps-

Powers be Severed. 

-One Clap-

Prepare for a new miracle made of light.

-Two Claps-

Roberta: -Claps hands- Dat’s, beautiful Freet!

Alfreda: -smiles- Thanks Roberta.

Roberta: Now, is there any truth ta rumers bout her head wound?

Alfreda: You, mean dat it was shinny or sum crystal and such? 

Roberta: Yes, dat it smelled, and her skull was part crystal?

Alfreda: I mean. She had a scar. Dat’s true. But, I would not call it shinny.

Roberta: Did it smell?

Alfreda: I mean…Momma always kept her head covered. But, come ta thank; she did always have a sweet smell bout her. -laughs- I thought it was jus de soap she used.

Roberta: -Smiles-

Alfreda: -laughs- Next, thang yall gon tell me is dat sweet boy bear story is true too!

Roberta: Sweet?

Alfreda: Means he had a little suga in his tank Ms. Roberta. -gestures-with hand- He was a little shakey.

Roberta: Ohh, yes. -laughs- I understand. 

Alfreda: Well, dat’s all I can remember right now.

Roberta: -stops recorder and packs up bags- Well, if there is anymore you can remember jus call me. -goes to shake hand- I’d love ta keep interviewing you Freet.

Alfreda: No problem. I will try to recall what I can Roberta. -closes door-

Roberta: -waves from the car at Junior climbing in tree- See, you next time Junior! -laughs- Betta not let ya Momma see you up in dat tree Boy!

Junior: -smiles-

“Loc’s/Monster” 8.5″ x 11″ Ink on Paper 2015

Maurice Moore

What is the significance of this work to you? What is the significance of the form you chose for this work? What was your process for creating this work?

What is the significance of this work to me, the form, and my process for creating these works can best be summed up: they deal with Afrofuturism, science fiction, and/or speculative fictions. These forms give people who identify as with the African and African American diaspora and/or with being Black, Indigenous, Queer, and People Of Color BIQPOC folks a safer space where we can practice and share our aesthetics on our own terms. 

My major influences and/or messages conveyed were channeled by engaging the works of mayfield brooks, Marlon Riggs, Langston Hughes, Jayson Musson, Zora Neale Hurston, Octavia E. Butler, and Dorian Corey of the African and African American diaspora whose work and/or art criticism focuses on Black aesthetics, Black processes, and the Black artist identity in western culture(s). These sources speak in depth about racial identity where the queer Black creative is concerned. For instance, how do people of the African and African American diaspora deal/process/balance their racial identities in the field(s) of art? In my case it’s considering how these drawings/performances/writings practices all while Black and queer impact my ability to navigate some of the harsh landscapes in this field coupled with the -isms, and erasures that White western aesthetics produce to hinder BIQPOC survival. Moreover, many of these works helped bring clarity and better articulation of Black mark making be it either in text form, or two-dimensional renderings, or through a performance; to explore some of the beauty and ugliness that still prevail for a twenty first century Black queer artist and beyond. In short, my questions involving identity deal with the importance of creating safer space and/or aesthetics as an Black, Indigenous, Queer, and People Of Color BIQPOC artist, and how this is pertinent to our survival? My idea of survival in this context was broadened after reviewing Achille Mbembe’s text on necropolitics and Silvia Posocco/Jin Haritaworn/Adi Kuntsman on queer necropolitics helped me to meditate on how for BIQPOC folks there must also be many ways to survive; and more importantly the ways we continue to thrive through Black and Latinx Ballroom culture, Black Speculative fiction, Houses, Black Foodways, Reading and Throwing shade, chosen family, and for me it’s been through creative practices such as drawing. 

Lastly, my process centers Practice as Research (PAR). Meaning, not only engaging with finished work(s) of Black Speculative fiction(s) i.e. text based works and/or visuals, or the criticism about these fictions, but I argue with this work and the work I will continue to make; that it is equally important to practice making Black Speculative fiction(s) due to there being a scholarly knowing/knowledge that is derived from the very act of practicing itself. By not considering drawing practices be they 2D, 3D, 4D, or text based as research at the same level as finished works and/or the criticism in this field; what are we missing out on as creatives and/or scholars by privileging one form of research over the other? Understand, my goal here with these texts and/or the drawings, is not to get the audience/readers to become professional artists, or writers, showing at art galleries or having their speculative fiction(s) appear on the New York Times bestseller lists. If that happens that would be great! However, the meaning of practitioner in this context involves the concept of Practice as Research. Meaning, a person is informed by actually practicing the techniques, theories, and hypotheses some creatives implore when creating their works. In short, just reading these Black Speculative fiction(s) created from this project, which is not meant to recreate the writing practice or make sense out of the final drafts. This work is meant to provide more clarity in the case of what it feels/felt like to draw and/or write Speculative fiction(s) while being a Black, Indigenous, Queer, and People Of Color (BIQPOC) creative. 

Maurice Moore is currently a doctoral Performance Studies Candidate at the University of California-Davis. His creative non-fiction, critical essays, fictional, and visual works have appeared in bozalta Collective, Harbor Review, Rigorous, Wicked Gay Ways, Storm Cellar Journal, Loud and Queer Zine, Strukturriss Quarterly Journal, HIVES Buzz-Zine, As Loud As It’s Kept Magazine, Unlikely Stories Mark V, and Confluence. From 2011 to 2021, he has exhibited work and performed at the Medford Arts Center in New Jersey, Memorial Union Gallery in Fargo North Dakota, the International House Davis (I-House) in Davis California, The Center for Visual Artists in Greensboro North Carolina, Christina Ray Gallery in Soho New York, the Lee Hansley Gallery in Raleigh North Carolina, the Gallery 307 + Orbit Galleries in Athens Georgia, Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro North Carolina, and performed with Rios/Miralda for the Garbage Celebration in Madison Wisconsin.

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