alisha b. wormsley
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There Are Black People In The Future

While in residence in the Homewood Artist Residency, supported by the Andy Warhol Museum, I developed a series of montage driven short films titled, Children of NAN. From this series came the title of the current project, "There Are Black People In The Future." Working in Homewood, I started connecting my work with the community by investigating the joys, triumphs, and LEGACY of this region. I also began to uncover and directly connect the developments in my studio with the challenges, fabricated perceptions, stereotypical prophecies, mental madness, localized mythology, and institutional obstacles readily occurring outside my window. With a collaborative spirit, I began collecting discarded and found objects, some, donated by students and elders in the community. The ritualistic actions of casting and printing on these objects that ensued was directly entwined with Homewood’s existence and survival. And mine... 

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As a multi-media/installation project, "the children of NAN" is a sci-fi mythology of civilization in which, 2000 years ago, dark skinned women (the abassi) ruled the earth.  a code in creation was realized by a tribe of pale men (casmirans) who use the code to "inherit" the earth and dominate over the world.  

Jump to one hundred years past present day: there has been an apocolyptical war and only the two groups, 'descendents of the abassi' (dark skinned women) and 'casmirans' (pale skinned men) survive. in constant war, both groups are unable to reproduce after the death of their mates. the casmirans capture an abassi woman and harvest her eggs to make experiments (mixed race females).   

the artwork and media created tells the story of the experiments.  

chapter one: beginnings is the first film installment of this work.  using mostly still photography and sound, this chapter sets the premise, introduces the experiments, and sets a tone for the rest of the work.  

Initially, I used photography to create this sci-fi piece.  That evolved into a manipulative realm in which the original images are distorted with collage, photomontage and live action film, blending different cultural concepts—tearing up different ideologies and fusing bits of them into one.  With this process of shredding and reassembling, I’m more able to show the connections.  I use theories of collage in media to create modern imagery that fuses both folklore tradition and popular culture.  


Children of NAN excerpts is a kind of origins episode.

It includes some background on the Abassi Queens including their creation story.  It is in this section we can also see that the experiments intuitively know this story.  But how?  If they were made in a lab with the Casmirans.  How has this knowledge been passed through their collective memories?  

Both Door of No Return and Time Travel are kind of commercials for the series.  Time Travel is literally how experiment 34 travels through time to search for NAN.  And in Door of No Return juxtaposes a tour of the Slave Dungeons in Ghana with an old commercial of Casmiran children playing.  


Art League Houston is pleased to present PROOF, a dynamic multimedia exhibition  by Studio Enertia:  a collaborative project  by Houston performer  and composer Lisa E. Harris, and Pittsburgh-­based artist Alisha B. Wormsley. The exhibition features a selection of sculptural installation, performance art, video and photography that bring together five  major  bodies  of  work  all exploring  the artists  ongoing  interest  in themes  of  the  African diaspora, social justice, and urban mythology.

PROOF  transforms  the  gallery  into  an incubator­-like  space;  where  the artists will experiment with combining individual narratives that reference global tradition, nostalgia and futurist dreams, as  a  way  to incite  new  dialogues  on  contemporary  issues  impacting  people  of  the African diaspora. The exhibition is designed to create an immersive environment where the artworks are meant to be experienced in context with each other rather than as individual units.

Taking place in Montreal,
The HTMlles is an international biennial festival that brings together artists, scholars, and activists who are passionate about critical engagement with new technologies from a feminist perspective. Based on a specific theme, each edition addresses urgent socio-political questions by pushing the boundaries of artistic and feminist practices. 


 Art League Houston - February 28 - April 5, 2014


Alisha B. Wormsley (Pittsburgh) and Lisa E. Harris (Houston)

EXHIBITION Studio XX (4001, Berri (201). Metro: Mont-Royal / Sherbrooke)
Opening: Saturday, November 8, 7 PM
Performance: Saturday, November 8, 8 PM

PROOF is a dynamic multimedia exhibition by Studio Enertia (sound artist Lisa E. Harris and visual artist Alisha B. Wormsley). Through sculptural installations, performance, video, and photography, the artists explore themes of the African Diaspora, social justice, and urban mythology. The gallery will be transformed into an incubator-like space where the artists will experiment with combining narratives that reference global tradition, nostalgia, and futurist dreams, as a way to incite new dialogues on contemporary issues affecting humanity.


Extinction (w/ Mantras) is a video installation about different perspectives of extinction.  I was in Whole Foods in an affluent neighborhood in Pittsburgh.  While there I had three separate conversations about the extinction of: redheads, bananas and bees.  I left that neighborhood to go to teach at a high school in a neighborhood called Homewood.  This neighborhood has an amazing legacy of american art, music and culture innovated by this working to middle class African American population, like many similar areas, through racist city planning and institutional neglect, the Reagan era, this neighborhood now suffers from abandoned and an increase in violence as a means of survival.  When I arrived at school I learned that one of my students brother's had been murdered.  And I thought that there is even privilege in extinction.  That redheads, bananas and bees will probably not become extinct but is the concern of the affluent, not the extinction of young black men.   This installation is on three screens.  the extinction video is in the middle and goes through two cycles and then on it's third the two screens left and right show a man and woman of african american descent saying mantras in full circles.  The idea is the mantras exist to elevate and protect the african american race from extinction.  

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In Slaves and Indians I collaborate with performance and sound artist Lisa Harris to create a guerrilla performance piece and video installation. The work reflects on the institutionalization of art in America as juxtaposed with the historic connection (or lack there of) to the land. I create different structural forms to present this work by using different representations of cross cultural phenomena.  The work began as with while I was teaching at the MOMA. They had a retrospective of some of Yoko Ono’s work, and on the mezzanine there was a microphone set up. Standing alone. I never saw anyone speak on it. It was art to be interacted with, but no one did. I began to think about what it means to have this platform in a place of conforming.  A big white cube of squares (frames), a place where the art is boxed.  I talked to Lisa about it and we came up with the phrase, “Slaves and Indians. I wish I had roots, I wish I had roots.”




We began filming slaves and indians in institutions and art spaces, places we collaborated in.  And some we didn’t…

Lisa and I participated in a pop up performance series on the Montrose Blvd. medians called Interruptions.  Lisa had the idea to be elevated in some sort of bodice.  Fellow artist, Patrick Renner, was installing a huge sculpture called the Funnel Tunnel, I asked him for left over frame from the enormous structure and decided to build something that would communicate with Renner’s work.  I had the idea to have Lisa as a Victorian mime.  Almost like in Alice in Wonderland.  I draped the sculpture in white and made a Victorian collar for Lisa to perform in.  

Lisa performed 3 days in a row.  

Day 1: with a bullhorn.  

Day 2: Breaking into Radio Feed. 

Day 3: Loud Speakers and Microphone.  

In residence in Montreal, I started really paying attention to totems I was seeing, which I also remembered seeing in Africa. Totems are the oldest cross cultural phenomena. This and other reflections led me to install the video work of Slaves and Indians into a totem pole of TVs.  Lisa found a old colonial costume and we went to different landmarks in Montreal filming her perform the song.  We also set up a workshop in which we asked participants to sing the first song they remember being sung to or sang themselves.  And to respond to a number of sounds from gregorian chants to cuban bembe rituals layered together.  Footage of the participants was mixed with Lisa’s performances and clips of rituals from around the world that use music as a means of connecting to the spirit.  In this we used sound in a physical style of the totem as a “healing” from the institutional constraints of Art in America…

For it’s next presentation, I am designing a bottle tree (believed to be originally a tradition in Congo area of Africa in the 9th Century A.D. and that the practice was brought over by slaves who hung blue bottles from trees and huts as talismans to ward off evil spirits)  The tree will be made of bottles from commercial products and iPhones and iPods to screen Lisa in performance around the area.   This is a variant of the TV totem created in Montreal.  





"This work is inspired by my experience with my nephew and godson who are Autistic. It began with my nephew, who has one of the most artistic and beautiful ways of seeing the world. When he was very young I spent a lot of time with him in wonder of the worlds he resided in. I watched, related and envied his ability to stay in them even when required not to. The positive and negative effects it had on him and my family.  When he was little I read Curious George to him, one of my favorite childhood characters. Revisiting Curious George, I saw the very obvious connections to imperial and colonialism. This idea of taking George out of the jungle and bringing him to America so he can be civilized. And his impetuous "savage" nature gets him both in trouble and makes him a marvel. I found the same to be true with my nephew and godson. I began playing around with all the imaginary worlds they fit into."

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“All This and Heaven Too” reference the notions of time, shifting visual language, and African American identity, by visually contrasting time specific symbols.

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In this series of work, Alisha Wormsley uses theories of collage to create modern imagery that fuses both folklore tradition and popular culture. Each image (and its title) toys with cultural nostalgia, layering inner and outer realities to construct a story examining issues of gender, class, race and time. By creating one image through a collage making process, Wormsley provides the viewer with disparate images. This disparity requires the viewer to reinterpret the subjects, objects and their implied symbolism. Wormsley’s process begins with a black “canvas.” Then she finds subjects and cloths them, using vibrant colors or blacks and whites, leveraging tonality as a variable in the story-telling. Often the subjects wear clothes that hint at a specific era or culture that may or may not suit the model or settings to further disorient the viewer and set the framework for each story. The backdrop and props are selected to enhance composition as well as to challenge the viewer’s perceptions. Often the result is an eerie quality amidst a beautiful aesthetic meant to challenge the viewer’s assumptions about what is truth and what is photo-fiction...

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In May of 2013, The August Wilson Center unveiled new work from visual arts Fellow Alisha Wormsley in the REMIX Right Gallery. The multimedia installation, entitled The Transformation of Oshe, explores Afro-Cuban themes.  The exhibition represents the culmination of a year-long anthropological, psychological and artistic journey—between Cuba and the United States. Through the telling of an Afro-Cuban religious narrative, Alishaʼs pieces explore issues of identity, social justice and duality. The exhibit incorporates operatic music, photography, collage, video and installation.







In 2009 Aerin Vanhala and I travelled to Santiago de Cuba to begin a project named Found Art and Excess.  

The project is a two part process that begins with a found art exploration and culminates in an exhibition.  First we explored Cuba for a month, collecting discarded objects (which were minimal), we photo documented and filmed our search.  Then we created works out of and based on our finds.  This work was exhibited at Galeria Universal.  






After the show was installed, we met with a group of high school students and facilitated workshops taking them through our process to create their own found art.  

We launched the project in Cuba and New York.  We chose Cuba and New York because they represent geographic locales that are diametrical opposites in how the notion of excess plays out in their societies.  In Cuba, because of limited resources, the types of "found objects" will also be limited.  The comparison to New York is immensely significant in myriad ways. For instance, many people furnish their apartments with "found objects."  We plan to film document the project in both cities to promote the project and hopefully carry on worldwide.

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