EAST LANSING, Mich. — For artist Helina Metaferia, perhaps the most important part of her solo exhibition By Way of Revolution, at Michigan State University’s (SCENE) Metrospace, is a circle of folding chairs that stands in the middle of the space, visible to passers-by on the downtown sidewalk.
“The space is meant to be activated,” she said during a walkthrough of the gallery with Hyperallergic. “It’s a living exhibition that changes depending on who is in the space. So much about this show is about dialogue and the power of conversation.”
In some cases, the dialogue is literal, to be undertaken informally by people who enter the gallery space and feel entitled or invited to take a seat — which in and of itself is a kind of social survey, according to Metaferia — but the artist also took pains to schedule a host of events that invite groups to hold activities and conversations in the space, including the monthly meeting of the Black Student Union; a healing retreat by the NY-based group Harriet’s Apothecary; a performance workshop led by Metaferia; and a day of celebrating Black love, joy, and political power organized by Black Lives Matter Michigan. Metaferia’s objective is clear: to highlight this space as available to women of color (especially Black women) in East Lansing and to make the conversations they are having more visible to anyone who happens by.