Pamela Sneed | Indisposable: Tactics for Care and Mourning

Pamela Sneed, Installation of selected works from the following series: Tops, 2022, When My Brothers Were Alive and the Sun Shone, 2022, The Mourning Series, 2018, Untitled Haiku, 2022, Watercolor, acrylic, neon, Dimensions variable

Click the button below for the audio and text of the VISUAL DESCRIPTION for Pamela Sneed’s installation:

On a black wall is a compilation of works of portraits by Pamela Sneed with a white neon sign in the middle. The installation resembles a family album and Sneed has a relationship to each image. The watercolors, acrylics and the untitled neon haiku are all very new/made this year in 2022. The black collages were made a few years ago and are titled the mourning series. Pamela writes: “I believe they were triggered by a police killing of a Black person. All works here represent some aspect of mourning and my attempts to make visible people who have been advertently and inadvertently erased. Part of healing is visibility /bringing the hidden and buried to light. Most recently added to this collection is an image of Jayland Walker a young 25 year old black man shot over 90 times by police over a traffic stop in Akron Ohio. The image is on the outside lower left. There are also several watercolors that depict several of the Black People murdered at tops Buffalo supermarket in May 2022 by a white supremacist At times they are rendered in color and at times they are rendered in dark blue and black to depict a ghostly quality. The remaining images are of young Black male poets who were felled by the AIDS crisis in the early 90’s. They were all friends and comrades of mine, Whom I came of age with. Two with a purple background are of poet Craig Harris who worked on the frontlines of the AIDS crisis at GMHC. The other poets represented are one a close friend Donald Woods with his peers Poet Assotto Saint whose work will be reissued next year by Nightboat press. There are several images of Essex Hemphill, Colin Robinson and images of them together. It has been part of my life’s work as an interdisciplinary artist a poet and artist to render these important artists/so none are forgotten.”
Pamela Sneed, Installation of selected works from the following series: “Tops,” 2022 “When My Brothers Were Alive and the Sun Shone,” 2022 “The Mourning Series,” 2018 “Untitled Haiku,” 2022 Watercolor, acrylic, neon Dimensions variable

Pamela Sneed (she/hers) is a poet, writer, performer and visual artist, author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom than Slavery; KONG and Other Works; Sweet Dreams; Funeral Diva; the chapbooks Lincoln and If the Capitol Rioters Had Been Black; and two chaplets, Gift and Black Panther.

Pamela Sneed’s watercolors profoundly document her evolving experiences of mourning over time. When My Brothers Were Alive and the Sun Shone is a series of portraits of Sneed’s chosen family, men from the queer community who died of AIDS in the early days of the pandemic.

Sneed vividly brings to life the beauty and joy that their lives embodied, reminding us of the enduring ache of their loss. The images link pandemics; then, as now, vibrant lives were needlessly lost through the stigma and dismissal leveled at seemingly disposable communities; then as now, homophobia, ableism, and racism are foully ensnared. There is a profound connection between these images and her watercolors of those murdered in the 2022 Tops Friendly Markets shooting in Buffalo, NY. The portraits are of community members, activists, and caregivers who formed an important web of support in their families and their East Side community. Sneed mourns their loss, and in presenting the group image, invites us to reassert care as their legacy: as a means of anti-racist work, joy, and survival. In the fragmentation and abstraction of Sneed’s Mourning Series, she offers another side to the experience of mourning. Her collages are more visceral in their expression of mourning as something that is impossible to fully know or comprehend and never fully complete. Positioned between these framed portraits and collages is a white neon haiku in Sneed’s own handwriting. The Untitled Haiku radiates and reverberates a message centered by both care and mourning as it makes space for grief to lay her head on Sneed’s brown shoulder.

For Chapter 5 of Indisposable: Structures of Support after the ADA Sneed performed selections from Funeral Diva (2020) to remind us of the forms that resistance shouldn’t have to take— like survival.

Instagram: @pamela_sneed