A forthcoming American exhibition titled, ‘Pray for Us,’ will headline the works of a Ghanaian director and writer, Kuukua Eshun, as well as the creations of a number of other creatives later in July.
Curated by Bre’Ann White as part of the Womxnhouse Detroit Curatorial residency, and made possible by The Knight Foundation, “Pray For Us” will exhibit the works of Kuukua Eshun, Jade Lilly, Wayne Lawrence, Rachel Thomas, and Faith Couch in Detroit.
Scheduled for July 23 to August 23, 2022, the exhibition will also host an installation to honor the passing of Edna White, which will be put up by Bre’Ann White and Dedriauna Walker.
“’Pray for Us’ explores prayer as an ancestral technology connecting this world and the next, bringing peace, comfort, and solace to those seeking heavenly guidance. Centering the Virgin Mary and the marginalized, yet vital role of motherhood in the Christian faith, “Pray For Us” invites artists from across the globe to explore motherhood through the conduit of prayer, illuminating the ways motherly figures of all genders shape our spiritual traditions.
“The show will illustrate how mothers fortify our communities with love, care, and enlightenment, rematriating our relationship to prayer and our connection to the divine,” a statement said.
This would however not be the first time Kuukua Eshun is premiering her film in Detroit. In 2019, Kuukua’s film “Artist, Act Of Love,” the 14 international award-winning short film, was screened in Detroit as part of Re:pulica’s festival.
In the words of Bre’Ann, this exhibition forms part of her lifelong mission to make better her community.
“My mission in life is to uplight my community and give a voice and platform to the limitless power and beauty of the black experience. In photography and high-end creative direction, I can exist as my full self and thrive on a path that I was told wouldn’t be viable. In my work, I manipulate traditions and glorify scenes that seem ordinary as a way to honor my own nontraditional path. I have used the city of Detroit as a backdrop to launch an international brand that now executes cross-sector collaborations, social justice campaigns, exhibitions, and panel discussions, all with an eye towards authentically amplifying authenticity. It’s about providing people with the opportunity to be bold and feel beautiful, talented, and seen,” she said.
Below are brief profiles on the artists
Rachel Elise Thomas (b. 1988) is a Detroit-born and based artist who obtained their BFA in Photography from the College for Creative Studies. Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, print and digital publications.
Being a collage artist and documentary photographer has given her the versatility to tell stories in different ways. She gathers inspiration from vintage magazines and advertisements, family artifacts, old photographs, decorative paper, textiles, and printed words; assembling imagery and materials that invite the viewer to deeply examine the messages being presented. These messages usually revolve around identity, ancestry and spirituality—with some topics having tongue-in-cheek nuances, this is done to further understand and delve into issues that affect our society—such as: overconsumption, vanity, materialism, colorism, sexism, and racism.
Faith Couch, originally from Durham, NC is a Photographer currently based in Baltimore, MD. Working predominantly with photography and video art, her work highlights themes dealing with race, gender, sexuality, and nationality. She has exhibited work at New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles, The ICP in New York, The Nasher Museum at Duke in Durham, NC, and the Aperture Foundation amongst other places. Couch graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art in of 2019. She was featured in Forbes Magazine for her work as a Photographer Forbes30u30.
Kuukua Eshun is a Ghanaian-American creative who splits her time between Ohio and her home Accra. Inspired by emotions and femininity, Kuukua raises awareness about social issues and mental health through her writing and film. She’s a Multi award-winning filmmaker. Kuukua Eshun’s strong visual storytelling ability has led to a very successful career in the last couple of years.By taking full ownership of her sensitivity, Kuukua carries her tenderness as a strength through consciously and unconsciously tapping into stories that come from a place of restoration and power in vulnerability.
Her Film ‘Artist, Act of Love’ won an award at the Worldwide Women’s Films Festival for Best Visual Effect and has nabbed 14 international award nominations. Her films have been screened at many Academy Award- Qualifying Film festivals around the world. Recently, she directed a short film for the Grammy nominated album “Made In Lagos Deluxe” by the super star Wizkid, a Granny award winning artist. The 1st of it’s kind from the African continent.
Her new documentary “Unveiling” which touches on sexual assault against women was recently commissioned by the ANO Institute of Arts & Knowledge and was first shown at the Museum Ostwall Im Dortmunder U – in Germany. After this success, her film ‘Born of the Earth’ followed, which was also recently premiered at the Biennale in Dakar, Senegal.
The DAK’ART biennale is considered the biggest African contemporary art festival in the world. As uncommon as it is to see an African woman filmmaker, at a young age, succeed in both the film and art world whiles remaining inspirational and authentic, Kuukua is making it happen. Kuukua is the founder of ‘Filming as Woman’, a female led production company based in Ghana. She has worked with Roc-nation, Vic Mensa, Wizkid, Huawei, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Variety Magazine, Michaela Coel, Lifetime TV, The Economist, etc.
As an African woman who believes in changing the narrative and letting her voice be heard, she’s spoken at Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Ghana international School, re: publica Detroit and Accra, J-force conference and many other platforms. Her belief in gender equality has pushed her to protest on the streets of Accra every so often. She recently, collaborated with UNFPA Ghana to hold a healing session for young women who are survivors of sexual assault. She is also the co-founder of an organization that prioritizes in the ultimate purpose in providing an education to the youth of Jamestown, Ghana. With the partner of the NGO she co-founded, they have given young children the possibility to go to school in Jamestown. Kuukua is also the co-founder of another NGO which is the first all-female skate crew in Ghana.
As a co- founder of the Club, her goal is to create a safe space for women in sports on the continent. As seen in Vogue Magazine, Yahoo News, Vice, Konbini and many others. Kuukua is a powerhouse who continues to tell stories that matter through her art and work. Her belief in gender equality has pushed her to protest on the streets of Accra every so often.She recently, collaborated with UNFPA Ghana to hold a healing session for young women who are survivors of sexual assault.
Her writing has been published in the ECA literary Magazine, Apple News, Ghanaweb and many more.She is also the co-founder of Boxedkids, an organization that prioritizes the ultimate purpose in providing an education to the youth of Jamestown, Ghana. Boxedkids has caught the attention of platforms like Skoll World Forum, Embassy of Netherlands, Apple, Suitcase Mag, Nataal, Ignant etc..Kuukua is the co-founder of Skate Gal Club, the first all-female skate crew in Ghana. As a co- founder of Skate Gal Club, her goal is to create a safe space for women in sports on the continent. It has been featured in Vogue Magazine, Yahoo News, Vice, Konbini and many others.
Kuukua is a powerhouse who continues to tell stories that matter through her art and work.
Jade Lilly – Considering herself a rainbow in human form, Jade Lilly’s ultimate goal is to spread light in what can be a dark world and bring beauty through colors. As a black woman, she creates a safe atmosphere for people to feel comfortable and be vulnerable through her art. Realizing that images are a universal language, she is passionate about capturing and creating images that evoke emotions that can result in conversations; she only hopes to change perspectives that no longer serve the greater collective.
Wayne Lawrence is a St. Kitts born, Brooklyn based visual artist whose work, rooted in the documentary tradition, seeks to illuminate the complexities of human experience, navigating ideas of community, purpose, and man’s relationship to our natural and adopted environments.
Wayne’s photographs have been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of Art, The FLAG Art Foundation, Amerika Haus(Munich), the Open Society Institute, and the African American Museum of Philadelphia among other galleries.
His work has appeared on the covers of National Geographic and TIME and has been published by National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, AARP, TIME, Rolling Stone, Variety, Men’s Journal,, Mother Jones, Mare, COLORS, and Newsweek.
His first monograph, Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera, was released by Prestel Publishing in October 2013, with accompanying exhibitions at the Bronx Museum of Art and The FLAG Art Foundation.
Wayne is currently at work on his second book, Black Blood, an exploration of J’ouvert carnival traditions in the Eastern Caribbean.
Source: Bre’Ann White, Contributor