2nd Fridays on Washington Square West
6:00 PM18:00

2nd Fridays on Washington Square West

Join Bower Cafe and KUZU Creative House for the first installment of our 2nd Fridays on Washington Square West on February 8th from 6-8pm, featuring artist and textile designer A. Zarinah Nuri’s collection: “Cosmology of the Root Worker,” along with music curated by talented producer and homie DistantStarr. Come vibe out! There will be beverages, with love, courtesy of Quaker City Mercantile x Quaker City Shrubs. See you then.


KUZU x Bower Cafe: Cosmology of the Root Worker, A. Zarinah Nuri

KUZU x Bower Cafe presents the work of Philadelphia-based artist and textile designer A. Zarinah Nuri. First of the  KUZU x Bower Cafe Second Friday Series, “Cosmology of the Root Worker” will be on view at Bower Cafe between Feb 8 - Mar 3, 2019. Join us for the opening reception with music by DistantStarr (Dizzy Arcadian Music/B.S.C. Crew) on Feb 8, 2019 at 6 PM.

The Ladies of the Conjure Collective, Ms. Spring Thing, Madame Believer, Our Lady of Thought, Your Highness of Flyness, work the roots using certain tools to heal the sick, cleanse, and manifest change. Their tools, mottos, rituals of the Ring Shout and remembrance and communication with the ancestors, are chronicled within Nuri’s images.

Root work (also known as hoodoo, conjure, working the roots) is an ever shifting underground African-American spiritual and magical practice. In the Antebellum era, “root work” was a way for slave communities to create their own refuge and healing methodologies. It combines knowledge from old Central and West African traditions, aspects of Christianity, and American herbal wisdom reconstituted/re-imagined in the American South. This practice continues on today in the contemporary world. The philosophy and practice of hoodoo implicates physical illness as a manifestation of negative supernatural causes and as having spiritual origin. Illness or lack (money, love, etc.) can also signify that there is a miscommunication with one’s ancestors. Root work serves as an interloper of sorts, a method interpretation of the unknown and contact with those who have come before us. Many of the tools of the practice are natural curios: shells, stones, roots, herbs, holy water and metal objects.

A “sister science” to hoodoo is a movement practice known as the “Ring Shout”, a sacred circle dance originally practiced on plantations in the American South. A direct descendant of many dances in West-Africa and the Congo, reinterpreted or re-membered,  the “Ring Shout” gave those enslaved in the U.S. a way to mourn, celebrate, and ask for guidance. The dance involves hand clapping, foot stomping, and praises/shouts. It moves roundabout in a circle.

The wooden figures known as “Nkisi” provide a way to enlist support for the living. Their potent physical presence or aura has been interpreted as frightening, a signifier of the strength and spiritual prowess of Nkisi.  A “client” of those who work the Nkisi, would make a petition or request, nails and other sharp objects are hammered into the surface of the wooden figure to activate the request using ancestral wisdom and to solidify the healing transaction into reality.

This series of work is deeply inspired by  Renée Stout, Richard Yarde, the music of Akae Beka (formerly Vaughn Benjamin), writings of the African Diaspora, and the journey toward healing. All works are hand rendered through paint (acrylic and watercolor), linoleum printing, charcoal, ink, then digitally manipulated.

About A. Zarinah Nuri

Zarinah Nuri is an artist and textile designer currently working out of Philadelphia. She received a BFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where she studied painting and traditional printmaking. As an image-maker and textile designer her work is heavily influenced by the many worlds she sees around her. She seeks to convey some of the deep mystery and music life offers. Through any of her work, she hopes the viewer can also conjure up their own visions of the enchantment of everyday life. She is completing an MS in Textile Design at Philadelphia + Jefferson University where she uses repeat pattern design as a compelling means for expression.

About DistantStarr (Dizzy Arcadian Music/B.S.C. Crew)

Distant is an experimental hiphop producer and rapper born in New York City and currently residing in Pennsylvania (US). He has released more than 20 projects worldwide both digital and physical including several full length albums and features with Blu, Hudson Mohawke, Kissey Asplund, Mecca:83, Fulgeance and Buscrates the 16-Bit Ensemble just to name a few. Currently Starr is working on a 8 part beat series and multiple projects with Sir Froderick, Buddy Leezle (Skxlxtor) and BSC Crew (Japan). Be on the lookout for these as well as the return of his "Seekers" rap album series.

Image:   Detail from Rootworker’s Bookshelf. A. Zarinah Nuri. 2017. Mixed media, hand rendered, digitally manipulated. 36x36 in.

Feb 8th 2019

Bower Cafe

Address: 263 S 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Time: 6-8pm

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