A.J. McClenon / Scuffle (Washington DC)
by artist A.J. McClenon
In response to A Raisin in the Sun I’ve written a series of essays that responds to the themes of each of the floors of the 6018North house. Participants will be able to have this written takeaway in the form of an artist book/zine.
I’ve been thinking a lot about space and housing, and how whiteness has dictated that Black presence decreases the value of a home, neighborhood, or community.
There is then the notion of getting out, which refers not only to Blackness but also to low-income areas where residents are left to decisions like staying and investing (often without financial compensation) or escaping. Then, there is the scuffle.
Whether finding a way to stay and survive, or to escape (and also survive) there is the scuffle to try to find the means: saving, borrowing, moving money around.
These issues were explored in A Raisin in the Sun.
BIO: A.J. McClenon is a multi-disciplinary artist born and raised in Washington, DC and currently residing in Chicago. A.J. holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2014) and a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in creative writing from the University of Maryland College Park. A.J. has performed and shown work throughout the US, at institutions including Steppenwolf, The Promontory, Woman Made Gallery, Echo Park Film Center, Chicago Filmmakers, Fine Art Complex 1101, and Longwood Arts Center. A.J. is also a co-founder of F4F, a domestic venue that cultivates a femme community, centers Blackness, and expands upon understandings of what domestic space can be.
Alongside with artistic experiences, A.J. is passionate about teaching and community collaborations with the goal that all the memories and histories that are said to have “too many Black people,” are told and retold again. As a means to uphold these stories A.J. creates performances, installations, objects, sounds, visuals, and writings. These creations often revolve around an interest in water and aquatic life, escapism, Blackness, science, grief, US history, and the global future. A.J. is deeply invested in leveling the hierarchies of truth and using personal narrative to speak on political and cultural amnesia, and their absurdities.