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:
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.