Brown Arts

Presence: A Womanist Lovesong to Black Fathers

April 22-May 10, 2024
An exhibition and envisioning space that encourages men of African descent to remember and represent their relationships with their fathers and children through a multimedia installation of creative and archival works.

An IGNITE Series Campus Project

Conceived and curated by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie (PhD TAPS ‘24). Co-curated and directed by Melaine Ferdinand-King (PhD Africana Studies ‘25).

Presence: A Womanist Lovesong to Black Fathers is an exhibition and envisioning space that encourages men of African descent to remember and represent their relationships with their fathers and children through a multimedia installation of creative and archival works. Through the artistic expression of 6 men residing in Rhode Island, this exhibition illuminates the nuanced experiences of fathers of African descent, intertwining themes of parenting, absence, nurturing, and care. 

Conceived and developed by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie (PhD TAPS '24). Featuring work by: Aarin Clemons, Bruno Gonçalves, Dominique Sindayiganza, Kimani Lumsden, John Tallie and Chachi Carvalho. Co-curated and directed by Melaine Ferdinand-King (PhD Africana Studies '25).

Poster of Presence: A Womanist Lovesong to Black Fathers


Exhibition Information

Date: April 22 - May 10, 2024
Location: Atrium Gallery, Granoff Center for the Creative Arts

The exhibition will be open to the public with a celebratory reception, procession, and community talkback held on Saturday, May 4th, 2024 from 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM.

3:00 PM: Collective Gallery Viewing at Atrium Gallery, Granoff Center for the Creative Arts
4:00 PM: Community Talkback and Reception at the Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre

Curatorial Statement

Presence is an exhibition that unravels the intricate layers of Afrodiasporic fatherhood. Through the artistic expression of 6 men residing in Rhode Island, this exhibition illuminates the nuanced experiences of fathers of African descent, intertwining themes of parenting, absence, nurturing, and care. 

Memory serves as a guiding thread throughout the exhibition, weaving together personal recollections, historical narratives, and cultural traditions. Through collage, installations, childhood objects, audio, video and photographs, the featured artists evoke memories of guidance, love, and sacrifice, while paying homage to the enduring influence of paternal figures whether present or absent. The artists’ memories, both cherished and challenging, offer insights into the complexities of male-identified parenting.

Central to the exploration of fatherhood is the notion of presence – the tangible and intangible ways in which fathers shape the lives of their children and communities. Through art, the exhibition captures moments of intimacy, strength, and vulnerability, showcasing the multifaceted dimensions of paternal presence

Presence also confronts the erasure and marginalization of fathers in mainstream narratives of African and African-descended peoples, affirming the resilience and agency of fathers in shaping their own stories. By reclaiming narratives and asserting their presence, these fathers inspire future generations to embrace their histories with pride and dignity and envision more livable futures.

As visitors engage with the artworks and narratives presented in Presence, they are invited to reflect on their own understandings of what it means to be present in the lives of children and consider how their upbringing has influenced their identities. Through dialogue and introspection, the exhibition fosters a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of the family, while honoring the enduring impact of present fathers in society.

About the Artists

Headshot of Chachi Carvalho
Courtesy of the artist
Charles "Chachi" Carvalho

Charles "Chachi" Carvalho is a multi-talented artist, educator, coach, and activist who comes from a long line of musicians and singers. He is a native-born and raised Rhode Islander with roots that stem from the island of Cabo Verde. Throughout his career he has won acclaim from Vibe Magazine in its round-up of the best MC’s state to state, and he was a two-time winner of the Wild Out Wednesday competition on BET’s 106 & Park. He is locally recognized for community advocacy, education and youth empowerment. He is the co-owner of Beat Box Studio, founder and artistic director of the Culture Shock Music Festival - a staple in the local music scene and hub for creative expression in Rhode Island, and a loving husband and father. During the day he serves as the first Chief Equity Officer for the city of Pawtucket. Chachi is a member of Brown Arts Institute’s Artistic Innovators Collective and will launch his Innovators Residency in summer 2024 with Local Traffic, with activations by a diverse talent of artists working to establish long-term connections between students, faculty, a global network of artists and producers, and surrounding communities. 

Nancy Carvalho

Nancy Carvalho is a vibrant and multifaceted artist whose life and work are a tapestry of her rich Cape Verdean heritage and her American upbringing. Born on March 26, 1974, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Nancy is the daughter of Cape Verdean immigrants who had arrived in the United States just a year before her birth. Her parents' journey from the Cape Verde Islands to America laid the foundation for Nancy's creative expression, which poignantly captures the essence of the Cape Verdean-American experience.

Headshot of Aarin Bernard Clemons
Courtesy of the artist
Aarin Bernard Clemons

Aarin Bernard Clemons (he/him) is often described as a mentor, connector, and bridge builder. He leads with the belief that everyone is deserving of dignity, and empathy. With this, he has managed several operations and had the privilege to affect the lives of many in The Hospitality, Non-Profit Arts, and Corporate sectors. Aarin is a graduate of the School of Business Administration at Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management. Engaging in a concentration in Non-Profit Foundations, Aarin began to immerse himself in Board and Committee Work in Housing Development, Education, and Arts Foundations through the aughts. In 2017 he received an Emerging Leader Award from The Rhode Island Hospitality Association, and was welcomed as a guest judge in the Rhode Island Prostart Regional Competition. A 2019 Champion of Adult Learning award from The United Way cemented his path into Workforce Development. A resident of Providence, RI, Aarin enjoys quality time with his loved ones and music collection in nearly equal measure.

Bruno Gonçalves

Bruno Gonçalves is currently a firefighter and a cardiac emergency medical technician (EMT-C) for the City of Providence. Before joining the Fire Department in 2006, he worked as a security officer at Miriam Hospital. While working full-time, Bruno shared his love for music by freelancing as a part-time disc-jockey. A graduate of New England Institute of Technology, Bruno has an appreciation for electrical technology. When he is not at the fire station, Bruno’s favorite activities are spending time with his family, listening to music, teaching his 10 year-old son to play the keyboard and drums, and cooking and finding ways to make tasty vegetarian and seafood meals. He’s also an avid fan of sports and combat sports. Bruno’s guiding philosophy in both his personal and professional life has always been that ‘love always finds a way’ and ‘living in the moment’. He aims to make his family, friends, and strangers he meets on calls feel valued, comfortable and seen. 

Dominique Sindayiganza

Dominique Sindayiganza is a photographer living in Providence, RI and the father of three daughters.

Kimani Lumsden

Kimani Lumsden is a dedicated music educator with a deep passion for exploring global music traditions. While he hasn't formally studied ethnomusicology, his commitment to understanding diverse musical cultures rivals that of a professional. With a BA degree in Spanish from UMASS Boston and a certificate in Spanish Language from Universidad De Barcelona, Kimani brings a unique cultural perspective to his teaching.

In addition to his academic achievements, Kimani is fluent in French, Spanish, and Catalan, further enriching his ability to connect with diverse communities.

In his role as a music educator, Kimani is committed to nurturing creativity and instilling a lifelong love for music in his students. His approach involves integrating various art forms, from song and dance to poetry and theater, fostering a holistic understanding of artistic expression. Kimani's expertise extends to working with vulnerable children, where he has developed innovative strategies to empower students and unlock their potential. Through his work with Boston City Singers, Kimani mentors young musicians, prioritizing collaboration and student ownership of music.

Outside the classroom, Kimani's passion for world music drives his studies as an "armchair" ethnomusicologist. His dedication to understanding and appreciating diverse musical traditions underscores his belief in the power of music to transcend cultural boundaries and unite communities.

Headshot of John Tallie
Courtesy of the artist
John Tallie

John Tallie was born and raised in Kinloch, Missouri in 1928. He was the oldest of five children. From a young age he knew he wanted to be an architect. An uncommon and ambitious goal for anybody, let alone a Black boy born in the United States during segregation and The Great Depression. He attended high school in his community and later attended Lincoln University in Missouri where he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Building Engineering in 1954. Mr. Tallie served as Second Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers and was President of the Albuquerque branch of the NAACP. To pursue his dream of being an architect he attended Howard University from 1959-1961 and then attended night school at Columbia University. He married Jewell McDonald on May 30,1972 and became stepfather to John McDonald and Mellody McDonald. John and Jewell had Mariahadessa in1973. Mr. Tallie passed the registered architect’s exam a few years later and achieved his dream of being an architect. He joined the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and worked for the New York City Department of General Service for 30 years. He passed away peacefully on April 15, 2024.


About the Curators & Collaborators

Headshot of Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie
Photo credit: Dominique Sindayiganza
Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie (Curator) is an interdisciplinary artist and a PhD candidate in the Theatre Arts and Performance Studies program at Brown University. Her dissertation centers on “Black Otherwises” in the work of Ntozake Shange and weaves together performance studies methodologies, archival research, Black feminist theory, and African-based spirituality. Tallie is also author of the award-winning children’s book Layla’s Happiness (Enchanted Lion Books), the poetry collections Strut (Agape Editions) and Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped Eye), and Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press). Tallie’s poetry is the subject of the film “I Leave My Colors Everywhere.” She is also featured in “Tell Me Another Story” a film about the importance of inclusivity in children’s literature. Tallie is the mother of three galaxies who look like daughters.

Headshot of Melaine Ferdinand-King
Photo credit: Rythum Vinoben
Melaine Ferdinand-King

Melaine Ferdinand-King (Co-Curator & Project Manager) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College and is a teacher and scholar of Black history, feminism, consciousness, arts and culture. Her dissertation project is an exploration of Afro-Surrealist thought and practice, highlighting 20th-century U.S. and Francophone Caribbean creativity and philosophy. She holds graduate fellowships and affiliations with the Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America. In addition to her graduate work, Melaine is a poet and independent curator committed to bridging gaps between academia and the Providence community. Her most recent offering, “Art and the Freedom Struggle: The Works of Mumia Abu-Jamal” is on display at the Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice through July 19th, 2024. She enjoys jazz and soul music, language learning, and comedy.

Headshot of Carlon Howard
Courtesy of the artist
Carlon Howard

Carlon Howard (Community Coaching) is the Chief Impact Officer and Co-Founder of Equity Institute. In his role, he oversees program strategy, organizational operations, and implementation for the organization’s educator pathway program. He is a social entrepreneur dedicated to exploring innovative ways to solve some of our country’s most pressing problems. In addition to helping launch the Equity Institute, he also co-founded Re*generation (formerly EduLeaders of Color R.I.). Now an initiative of the Equity Institute, Re*generation hosts monthly meetups designed to support education leaders from underrepresented backgrounds.

Before entering his current role with Equity Institute, Carlon was executive director of Breakthrough Providence, served as a City Year AmeriCorps member and Impact Manager, was a classroom teacher, and was a policy fellow for a former Colorado State Senator. He graduated from the University of Georgia with undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and political science and completed his graduate degree in education from Rhode Island College. He also earned a graduate certificate in nonprofit management and leadership from the Institute of Nonprofit Practice, in affiliation with Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. Carlon is an avid reader and lifelong learner who spends much of his time exploring topics related to social science and leadership.

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