Harmonia Rosales’ Miss Education: Reclaiming Our Identity, is the third and final chapter in MoCADA’s exploration of spirituality in the African diaspora. In this exhibition, Rosales examines America’s puritanical foundation and approach to what is civilized while shedding light on issues of today. Though these ideals made by Europeans often overlook those who don’t fit into “traditional” frameworks, and deny the African origins of religion and their involuntary route to the Americas, they have never determined the true value of the Black woman. The identity of the Black woman tells a much bigger story of creation, of god, of being a Black female, of being a work of art. And finally, these erroneous modes of thinking are questioned and shifted to carve out new concepts of excellence.
Through Harmonia Rosales’ work, Black women can no longer be manipulated. We see the beauty and contrast within ourselves, which begs us to dive deeper into our natural essence and our contributions, to relive through these eyes. Scientifically the Black woman is the only organ that possesses the Mitochondria DNA that has all variation possible for every different kind of human being on this Earth (African, Albino, European, Middle Eastern…etc.). When the DNA of a Black woman mutates, all other types of human beings come about. This is called the “Eve Gene”, the mother of all mothers from whom all living humans descend.
This is the beginning of an exploration that incorporates ourselves, to know who we are while journeying through America, the catch-all of cultures. Though our spiritual forms were once destroyed, they defied time and space and we are no longer disconnected.
Every detail matters.
Every picture tells a story.
Every symbol and fabric means something in the greater context of history.
Grab hold of this inspirational conduit and channel its flow. See us beyond slavery, but as collaborators in American history and the greater African diaspora. The Black woman is the provider, destiny’s child, the creator of all human beings — an indestructible being made in god’s image, to be loved, to be accepted, and to live fully as we are.
Harmonia Rosales is an Afro-Cuban American born in Chicago. The Black female bodies of her paintings are the memory of her ancestors expressed in a way to heal and promote self-love. In addition, the approach that nourishes Rosales’ art is closely linked to her multicultural Afro-Cuban background. The ethereal creations to which she gives birth on the canvas are a synonym of female empowerment and cultural acceptance, by which she has grappled with.
As a young girl, the renaissance masters’ impeccable skill and composition fascinated her but she could never relate because they depicted primarily a White male hierarchy and the idealized subordinated woman immersed in the Eurocentric conception of beauty. Rosales’ main artistic concern has been focused on Black female empowerment in western culture. Her paintings depict and honor the African diaspora. The artist is entirely open to the ebb and flow of contemporary society which she seeks to reimagine in new forms of aesthetic beauty, snuggled somewhere between pure love and ideological counter-hegemony. Her message is to create a sense of harmony.
Use MoCADA’s tour notes as your guide through the exhibit, which includes a deeper dive into our themes, the artists’ notes and bios, as well as a glossary for greater understanding of the exhibit’s subject matter. DOWNLOAD the Miss Understood: Reclaiming Our Identity tour notes (pdf).