Ancestors at Play: Audacity and Visibility in the Queer Black Archive

UNTITLED (BLUE), 2019 by artist Alanna Fields
UNTITLED (BLUE), 2019 by Alanna Fields
Archival inkjet print on canvas, Japanese kozo, encaustic, frame

April 22, 2021 | 6:00PM (ET)
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Join artist and archivist Alanna Fields, historian and artist Noelle Lorraine Williams, and poet and writer Naomi Extra for a dynamic conversation about Black representation in art and how Black queer representation has been historically obscured. Moderated by professor Beryl Satter, co-founder of the Queer Newark Oral History Project .

Alanna Fields is a 2020 Lynn and John Kearney Fellow for Equity at Gallery Aferro, and as a culmination of that award, Aferro is working with the Queer Newark Oral History Project and the Departments of African American and African Studies  and History at Rutgers University-Newark to offer public engagement with her research and artmaking.

The Fellowship is one of several fully-funded opportunities for artists available in Gallery Aferro's workspace residency program, and supports women artists of color at any age, to advance gender-based, racial and economic justice.


photo of Alanna Fields

Alanna Fields creates work that draws upon Black queer archives. Working intimately with found photographs and vernacular photography, Fields’ work aims to reconstruct the way in which we contextualize images of the past, pushing them beyond nostalgia. Through mixed media collages and paintings, Fields’ uses of wax as veils and her reconfiguration, cropping, and slicing of photographs serve to retrain our eyes to see deeper into Black queer images. Framing these images within hard lines, edges, and blocks of color acknowledges the ways in which Black queer representation has been historically obscured, invisibilized, and retained within borders. 

Alanna Fields (b. 1990) is an American mixed-media artist and archivist whose work investigates and challenges representations of Black queer identity and history through the lens of photography. Fields' work has been featured in exhibitions including Felix Art Fair, LA, UNTITLED Art Fair, Miami, MoCADA, and Pratt Institute. Fields is a Gordon Parks Foundation Scholar, 2020 Light Work AIR, 2020 recipient of the Lynn and John Kearney Fellowship for Equity at Gallery Aferro, as well as a Baxter St. CCNY Workspace AIR. She received her MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute and has given talks at the Aperture Foundation, Stanford University, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Parson's New School, and Syracuse University. Fields lives and works in New York City.

photo of Naomi Extra in front of a bright orange background Naomi Extra is a freelance writer, poet, and doctoral candidate in American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. In both her creative and scholarly work she explores the themes of agency and pleasure in the lives of Black women and girls. She has been awarded fellowships by Cave Canem, Jack Jones Literary Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Crescendo Literary, and the African American Intellectual History Society. Her writing has appeared in Glamour, Zora, Ms. Magazine Blog, Lit Hub, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her poetry manuscript entitled Ratchet Supreme was selected by Tiana Clark as the winner of the 2019 BOAAT Chapbook Prize.
photo of Noelle Williams smiling in front of mural

Noelle Lorraine Williams lives and works in Newark, NJ. She is a graduate of the New School for Social Research and Rutgers University Newark. As a public humanities specialist, artist, researcher and curator, her work examines the ways African Americans utilize culture to re-imagine liberation in the United States. She has exhibited  and lectured at the Newark Museum, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Jersey City Museum, Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn and Cue Art in Manhattan. Her work as an artist and curator has been reviewed in the Star-Ledger as a part of their profile on “The Newark School”, New York Times, ArtNews, and other publications.Last year, the exhibition she curated at The Newark Public Library “Radical Women” was the recipient of the Giles R. Wright Award for contributions to African American History in NJ. She recently received the Creative Catalyst Grant from the City of Newark administered by Newark Arts. She is also a recipient of the 2021 Individual Artist Fellowship Award for Crafts from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

She currently continues to make art, curate, teach and write about history, African American women’s lives and liberated communities in the United States.  Please visit her current project “Black Power! 19th Century” at

photo of Beryl Satter facing forward with slight smile Beryl Satter is Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark.  Her book Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (2009) won the Organization of American Historians’ Liberty Legacy Award for best book in civil rights history and the Jewish Book Council’s National Jewish Book Award in History.  She is a cofounder, with Darnell Moore and Christina Strasburger, of the Queer Newark Oral History Project. She won a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 2015 and was selected as an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in 2016.  The Tenth Anniversary edition of Family Properties will be released in May 2020.