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CNY Branch of the NLAPW

Vanessa Johnson One-Woman Show

Johnson's solo exhibition "Straddling Oceans" has been on display at the Community Folk Art Gallery on East Genesee Street in Syracuse, NY. The exhibit features past and new works that tell the story of how Johnson defines herself through life experiences as an African American living in the U.S., and as an African living part of her life in Ghana, West Africa. The exhibition is funded in part by a grant from CNY Artist and my Mellon Foundation Creatives Rebuild NY Grant.

Photo shows Vanessa's mixed media art from her show: repurposed African dress, repurposed quilt background, cotton cloth from U.S. and Ghana, glass beads from Ghana, dress trim

“The First Birth”

She lifted her hand to the sky, seeking divine guidance. She was alone and it was time. The baby had rolled and dropped downward into position. Its tiny but insistent feet kicked a rhythm against the bottom of her belly, keeping time to its mother’s heart. Boom, boom boom boom! Boom, boom boom boom! She was sure that it was a girl.

It was time to birth the world. This first birth that would populate a whole planet. This first birth that would spread its DNA north, south, east, and west. This eternal birth that would repeat again and again down through infinit generations.

Hot pain shot through her and she closed her eyes, screaming in agony. As she began to fall, she felt an arm wrap around her. She opened her eyes, squinting at the bright warm light that engulfed her. The wind of the angel’s wings cooled her. A whisper comforted her fear; “You are not alone.”


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