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Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) : Jovan C. Speller : Nurturing, and Other Rituals of Protection


An exhibition of new work by the photographer and multimedia artist Jovan C. Speller, titled “Nurturing, and Other Rituals of Protection” is at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). The exhibition will underscore the importance of intergenerational care in Black culture while aestheticizing the security of a community too often targeted, misunderstood, and misrepresented in public spaces. Through photographs and an installation that depicts a living room, the exhibition presents a story of possibility and the potential for hope for Black families in every American community. “Nurturing, and Other Rituals of Protection” will be on view at Mia through June 26th.

Speller’s newest photographic work focuses on intergenerational protection and familial relationships in Black communities. Using her signature cutting and layering technique, Speller has created a new series of large-scale photographs depicting scenarios of exaggerated protection, including a grandparent’s enlarged hands holding an infant, a child’s wrapped arms around an oversized adult’s leg, and a child peeking out from behind a giant pleated skirt. Speller refers to these photographs as images of “ancestral shielding,” visualizing the importance of elders in Black communities while suggesting the idea of mythical ancestral protection.

The exhibition will also include an installation inspired by Speller’s grandmother’s living room, with details such as floral wallpaper, a clear-vinyl-covered sofa, and a coffee table. Sounds traditionally associated with domesticity, including those of washing and cooking and of a woman humming, softly fill the gallery. A television enhances the soundscape with laughter and snippets of conversation. Referring to the installation as the aestheticization of ancestral shelter, Speller recreates the atmosphere of a shared family space and the sense of comfort, safety, and familiarity it provides.


Jovan C. Speller : Nurturing, and Other Rituals of Protection
from March 19 through June 26, 2022
Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia)
2400 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

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