Shani Peters

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Artist Statement

I am interested in community building, activist histories, new models of record keeping and popular media subversion. My perspective is informed by coming of age in the socially conservative “me” generation of the 1980s while conversely being raised by Black Power era, socially minded parents.    I produce studio work in the forms of video, prints, collages, and installations that are dense with historical research, appropriated material and references (both highly recognizable and commonly overlooked), comedy, and rhythm to create new narratives of our forgotten victories. My public practice is an exercise in providing imaginative experiences to the communities I am close to, as forms of social service.

The Crown is an ongoing interdisciplinary public engagement project that utilizes reference to crowns and headdresses of various African, Indigenous American, and Western cultures as a method of celebrating and exploring the concept of self-determination. The project considers the overlap of the Black American created, Swahili influenced holiday, Kwanzaa, and the common conception that Black American’s African ancestors were all Kings and Queens. With a particular focus on self-determination, the work questions these useful yet flawed instances of cultural self-actualization, while pulling on their capacity to motivate audiences towards purpose driven thinking and self love in the face of an often hostile anti-black Western society. Iterations of the project have included installations of hundreds of crowns suspended over red carpets, video, prints, studio portrait photography, self-portraiture (selfies), social media, and youth focused crown-making workshops.

The project that lead to The Crown, via it’s finale event “everybody is a star” red carpet theme was The People’s Laundromat Theater, supported by The Laundromat Project’s 2013 Create Change Residency cycle. This concept brought an independent film festival to a Harlem laundromat for which the neighborhood was the judge. The project featured public workshops, discussions, and 12+ hours of video contributions from 32 artists. It sought to spark and inspire the imaginations of my Harlem communiuty away from the repetition and detriment of mass media and towards the potentialities of independent media making. The Finale event where EVERYONE (was) A STAR and EVERYONE (was) A V.I.P. featured the The People’s Paparazzi, a live DJ, and gormet catering provided for free to the public before the final screening of the top rated video works– as voted on by the community of Harlem.

Also in line with the video screening as space for community engagement concept of The People’s Laundromat Theater was Moving Murals: history, culture, + video, hosted by MoCADetroit’s DEPE Space public engagement residency. This project combined videos of cultural and social relevance to the history of Detroit (the region I am from) paired with dialogue and workshops. Within the museum and outside its walls, this program treated contemporary art selections as “moving murals” that traveled the city and surrounding area with a public program meant to spark imagination and conversations. The video program featured works from Aisha Cousins, Ariel Jackson, Jasmine Murrell and myself. These videos looped inside the museum along with an installation of contributed new works and ephemera. Additional public programing and workshops was hosted by Eastern Michigan University, Detroit’s Northwest Activity Center by way of the National Conference of Artists, and MoCADetroit’s Fall ’13 Family Day.

Each of these projects, and the various components that make them up, demonstrate my interest in histories relationship to new cultural social trends, in independent forms of media, and my ongoing desire to contribute to the development of vibrant and thoughtful communities.




(upcoming) The Crown (working title), The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum for Art & Storytelling, NY, NY Jan-TBT


AgitProp! (working title), Brooklyn Museum, NY, NY Dec-August 2016
Round 43: How We Work, Project Row Houses, Houston, TX, Oct-Dec
Catch Me If You Can: Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock, Women of the World Festival Exhibition, Raw Space, NY, NY, June
Then & Now: Ten Years of Residencies at the Center for Book Arts, April-June
The Crown: Contemporary Construction of Self in America at The University of Michigan,
Institute for the Humanities Gallery (solo show) Ann Arbor, MI March-April
Gallery DAAS, Ann Arbor (solo show) MI March-May
The Charles Wright Museum of African American History (film screening & workshop) Detroit, MI March

The Crown @ Njelele Art Station, Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec Jan, 2015
Spreading Rumors, public spaces, PICA, Portland, OR, Aug-Sept
If You Build It, No Longer Empty at Sugar Hill, Harlem, NY, June-Aug
Hoodies Up, The National Black Theater, NY, NY, Feb- March

ArtBlast, Visual Arts Network Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA, Dec
Moving Murals: history, culture +video, DEPE space project installation, MOCAD, Detroit, MI, Nov-Jan
The People’s Laundromat Theater Red Carpet Finale, The Schomburg Center NY, NY Sept
Motown 2 Def Jam, LeRoy Neiman Art Center NY, NY June
TOONSKIN: An Exploration of Blackness in Sequential Art, ArtSpace, New Haven, CT, May-June
Steppin’ Out: Half Hasn’t Been Told Mixer & Screening, Project Row Houses, Houston TX, May
DeCenter: Exhibition on the Centenary of the 1913 Armory Show, Abrons Arts, NY Feb-April
African Obama Fabrics and the Story Skirt Project, Baron Gallery, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH Feb
Positive/Negative 28: Minority Rule, Slocumb Galleries, East Tennessee State Univ.,TN, Feb-March

Location Relative, Contact Theatre, Manchester, UK, Oct.-Jan. 2013
Newark Scene and Heard, Gallery Affero, Newark, NJ, October-December
Scribus 03 Resident Work, Rogue Studios & Project Space, Manchester, UK, October
GET IT ON THE RECORD, Visceglia Gallery, Caldwell College, Bloomfield, NJ, Sept.-Oct. Me.We.She, Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia, PA, Feb.- March
Bard College Difference and Media Film Festival, Weis Cinema, Red Hook, NY, February
CPT: Time History and Memory, The Gallatin Galleries, New York Univ., NY, NY, February


Multiple, Limited, Unique: Selections from the Permanent Collection of the Center for Book Arts, traveling exhibition: Savannah College of Arts and Design, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Museum of Printing History, Lafayette College, Book Club of California, 2011-‘13
Bronx Calling: The First AIM Bienniel, Bronx Museum of Art, Bronx, NY, June-Sept.
Black X: Experimental African Diasporan Film Series, Maysles Cinema, NY, NY, May
ActNow: New Voices in Black Cinema Film Festival, Brooklyn Shorts Block, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Cinématek, Brooklyn, NY, February
Observed, Imagined and Recreated, Longwood Art Gallery, Bronx NY, Jan-May

Keyholder’s Exhibition, Lower East Side Printshop, NY, NY, Nov.-Jan. 2011
The Panthers Showed Unity then The House was Divided, Add Art web based solo show, June
Jamaica Flux: Art as Action, Jamaica Performing Arts Center, Queens, NY, April
African Film Festival, Schomburg Center for Black Culture and Research, NY, NY, February
Black Artist as Activist, Corridor Gallery Brooklyn, NY, Jan.-March

Doc Watchers: Harlem Made Shorts, Maysles Cinema NY, NY, October
Camera/Chimera, Gallery Aferro in Newark, NJ, September
Fresh: An Exhibition of Urban Contemporary Art, Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA, May
Reciprocity: Welcome to My Territory, Seung Ae Kim and Shani Peters, cashama space, NY, April
Layers of Current-cy: Black History in America, Harlem School of Arts, NY, NY, Feb-March


White Lies: Black Noise, Rush Arts Gallery, NY, NY, Nov.-Jan. 2009
M.F.A Thesis Exhibition, City College of New York Gallery, NY, NY, October
NEW PRINTS 2008/ Summer Artists’ Commentary, IPCNY, NY, June-Aug.
Generations IV, A.I.R. Gallery, NY, NY, Feb.-March 


Rema Hort Mann Foundation ACE Community Engagement Grant: “Tradução: Intercultural Media Exchange: US & Brazil”, collaboration with Sharita Towne, July 2015

Alumni Award: The Laundromat Project, June 2015

University of Michigan DAAS & Institute for Humanities Visiting Artist, MI Spring, 2015

The Rauschenberg Foundation, Artist As Activist Travel Grant: Zimbabwe & South Africa, March 2015

Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Emergency Grant, November 2014

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency, New York, NY Sept 2014- June 2015

MOCAD DEPE Space Residency, Detroit, MI November, 2013

Create Change: Laundromat Project Artist Residency, New York, NY June-Oct., 2013

Visual Arts Network Exhibition Residency @ Project Row House, Houston, TX April-May 2013

apexart Outbound Residency: Seoul, South Korea, December 2012-January 2013

Art Funkl Scribus Residency for Writers and Digital Media Artists, Manchester, UK, Sept.-Oct., 2012

Lower East Side Print Shop Keyholders Residency, New York, NY April 2010- April 2011

Bronx Museum Artist In the Marketplace, New York, NY 2010-11

2009/10 Fellowship recipient from the Urban Artist Initiative/New York City

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Swing Space Grant, New York, NY June-September, 2009

Center For Book Arts 2009 Artist-In-Residence, New York, NY

“Best in Show”, Fresh: An Exhibition of Urban Contemporary Art, Target Gallery, Alexandria VA, 2009

City College of New York Theresa Ralston McCabe Connor Award, Spring 2007


Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos, Public Talk, Creative Time/El Museo Del Barrio, June 2015

Examining Dimensions of the African Diaspora: Intersectional Identities, Columbia Univ., NY Feb 2015

Public Practices, The National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, December 2014

OJBK FM Radio: Public Art Talks, funkgodjazz&medicine, CreativeTime/Weeksville Center, BK, NY Sept 2014

Kansas State Univ., New Media Visiting Lecturer, Manhattan KS, March 2014

College for Creative Studies, Artist Lecture Series, Detroit MI, November 2013

Open Engagement ‘13, Individual Artist Projects in Social Context w/ The Laundromat Project, Portland OR, May 2013

Portland State University, Art and Social Practice Wednesday Afternoon Conversation Series, Portland, OR May, 2013

Portland Museum of Cont. Craft, Crafting Counter Histories: The Art of Counter Storytelling, Portland OR May 2013

1040 Lounge: Bronx Museum of the Arts Artist Talk Series, Bronx, NY, February 2013

Seoul Art Space Geumcheon: Artist Talk (apexart Outbound Artist Residency program partnership), December, 2012

Scribus 03 Resident Talk, Rogue Studios & Project Space, Manchester, UK, October, 2012

Bard College Difference and Media Film Festival, Filmmaker Discussion, Weis Cinema, Red Hook, NY February, 2012

MoMA Teen Night Artist Talk, NY, NY, November, 2010



Chameleon Street: A Reintroduction, The Crown: Contemporary Construction of Self in America, Shani Peters Exhibitions/Project Catalogue, GalleryDAAS, The Regents of the University of Michigan, April, 2015

U.S.->U.K.->S.K. and back: Observations on the Western World’s fat clogging of arteries and sugar coating of truth, by Shani Peters for Arts in a Changing America, April, 2013


The Crown: Contemporary Construction of Self in America, Shani Peters Exhibitions/Project Catalogue, GalleryDAAS, The Regents of the University of Michigan, April, 2015

Multimedia still a foreign art form, The Herald (Harare, ZI), January 22, 2015

Unlikely Tenants Filling a Neighborhood Vacancy ‘If You Build It,’ New York Times, July 10, 2014

Sweet Fillings on Sugar Hill, Manhattan Times, June 25, 2014

The Black Arts Collectives Issue, NKA, Journal of Contemporary African Art, Spring 2014

Studio Magazine, Neighborly Inventions: The Laundromat Project, Winter/Spring 2014

40 Amazing Black Artists to watch in 2014, The Grio, January 3, 2014

Bubble Art: The Laundromat Project (en)lightens the load, The Manhattan Times, October 2, 2013

Independent Films Find New Showcase in a Laundromat, The Uptowner, September 17, 2013

50 Important Artists of the 21st Century, Artvoices Magazine, September, 2013

Art Papers, You, Me, We, She, Philadelphia Review, July/August 2012

Philadelphia Inquirer, “A wide-ranging celebration of 2d-wave feminism“, March 11, 2012

Multiple, Limited, Unique: Selections from the Permanent Collection of the Center for Book Arts exh. Cat., The Center for Book Arts, 2011

Bronx Calling: The First AIM Biennial exh. Cat., 79, The Bronx Museum of Art, 2011

New York Daily News, “New festival highlights Brooklyn’s up-and-coming black moviemakers”, February 3, 2011

BoomBox, “Damon Dash’s Gallery Gets ‘Kinetic”, July 22, 2010

Groundswell, “In Review: Smack Mellon, Social Forum, Re:Group, Add Art, HONK! Benefit”, June 23, 2010

Jamaica FLUX ’10, exh. cat., 178-181, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, 2010

Amsterdam News, “African Film Fest, Schomburg screen controversial ‘Hertskovits at the Heart of Blackness’’, Feb. 25-March 3, 2010

Amsterdam News, ‘Corridor Gallery to highlight the role of Black artists as activists’, Jan. 27- Feb. 3, 2010

Camera/Chimera, exh. cat., 13-14, Gallery Aferro, 2009 


Master of Fine Arts, Focusing in Painting and Printmaking- The City College of New York, NY- 2009

Bachelor of Arts in Communication w/ P.R. Specialization- Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI- 2002