Winds of Change

“If someone asked me at the end of the day, ‘Ashara, what do you want to be?,’ I would say that I want to be a curator. I’d have the unmitigated gall to think I could curate a show. But it’s true: When I grow up, I want to own a gallery where I’d show works by African and African-American women.” So says “artivist” Ashara Ekundayo, who now spreads herself thin between Denver and the Bay Area, disseminating the word about community, cultural diversity and urban gardening wherever she goes. But even before she finishes growing up, Ekundayo, who founded Denver’s Cafe Nuba (among so many other things), has gotten to try her hand at curating with the new exhibit Yansan: 100 Years of Womyn’s Struggle, Ceremony and Sword, which opens today at Sellars Project Space, 4383 Tennyson Street, in celebration of the not-insignificant hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day.

The title Yansan, chosen in tribute to the Yoruban female orisha (or deity) Oya, “who guards and organizes chaos, transition and change, and whose element in nature is the tornado,” Ekundayo explains, is meant to convey the idea of self-actualization for women in modern society. To further that theme, she’s chosen works by a conglomeration of women artists of color from Denver, the Bay Area and New York, including mixed-media Amana Johnson, outspoken photographer Kim Mayhorn, activist poster artist Favianna Rodriguez, local sculptor Li Hardison and others, all women who, she says, are “amazing griots and storytellers who embody the energy that is transcendence” — the spirit of Yansan.

Attend a reception for Yansan from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight; tomorrow at noon, Ekundayo and some of the artists will join together for a free informal Talk Talk Talk panel. Yansan runs through March 29; for more information, visit or call 720-475-1182.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: March 4. Continues through March 29, 2011

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd