dark blue poster promoting exhibition visits with Tiona Nekkia McCloddenPrinceton Arts Fellow and award-winning visual artist, filmmaker, and curator Tiona Nekkia McClodden invites Princeton students to join her for a series of workshops and visits to exhibitions of her work in New York City, including the Museum of Modern Art, El Museo del Barrio Museum, The Shed, and 52 Walker Gallery. Each session includes a Friday evening lecture/workshop followed on Saturday by a guided group visit to a gallery. The series begins with an introductory event on September 16, after which students who want to participate must register to attend all 4 sessions (Oct. 7-8, Oct. 21-22, Nov. 4-5, Dec. 2-3).


All events are free and open to all Princeton students (admission and travel costs fully covered). Limited to 25 participants on a first-come basis by emailing Tiona Nekkia McClodden at to register. Participants must commit to attending all 4 sessions after the Introduction event on September 16.


Exhibition & Workshop Schedule

Friday, Sept. 16: Introduction to Lecture/Workshop Series

Tiona Nekkia McClodden offers an introduction to the series of workshops on 9/16.

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 7-8: Mask / Conceal / Carry

Friday, Oct. 7 from 4:30-6:30 PM — Lecture/Workshop: Mask / Conceal / Carry
Saturday, Oct. 8 at 1 PM – NYC Visit to 52 Walker Gallery to view exhibition

Installed under custom lighting, the works in Mask / Conceal/ Carry evince a variable blackness, realizing and dissolving figures and forms that are not immediately visible to the viewer. In her work McClodden has engaged with “masking” and its many meanings and guises, as well as “unmasking,” in which, as an autistic adult, she attempts to unlearn an assimilationist tendency to suppress one’s true self in order to appear neurotypical. This relates closely to “concealing,” a purposeful act of obstruction that, along with “carrying,” suggests associations with firearms regulation in the United States. “Carrying” also touches on deeper psychological aspects regarding trauma and burden that are threaded through the works.

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 21-22: The Trace of An Implied Presence

Friday, Oct. 21 from 4:30-6:30 PM — Lecture/Workshop: The Trace of An Implied Presence
Saturday, Oct. 22 at 3 PM — NYC visit to The Shed with 4 PM performance by Leslie Cuyjet

Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s The Trace of an Implied Presence meditates on the living history and influence of contemporary Black dance in the United States. The exhibition centers on a multichannel video installation inspired by the artist’s research into the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 1983 landmark festival Dance Black America, a dynamic presentation of American dance that featured legendary Black dancers, choreographers, scholars, and dance companies. In The Shed’s Level 2 Gallery, the installation features four individual dance floors that function as stages for projected images of archival dance footage, film portraits of key figures involved with the festival, and the artist’s own documentation of the Philly Bop, a Black social dance from Philadelphia.

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 4-5

Friday, Nov. 4 from 4:30-6:30 PM — Lecture/Workshop: Absolute Congruence, 2022 + In A Sense, 2022
Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 PM — NYC Visit to El Museo del Barrio Museum to view Juan Francisco Elso: Por América curated by Olga Viso

Juan Francisco Elso: Por América investigates the brief yet significant career of the late Cuban artist Juan Francisco Elso (1956-1988), who emerged as part of the Volumen Uno (Volume One) generation of contemporary artists who gained international recognition in the early 1980s. Organized by El Museo del Barrio and curated by Olga Viso, the contextual show places Elso’s work in dynamic dialogue with a multigenerational group of artists active both inside and outside of Cuba, the Caribbean, and throughout the Americas, including Ana Mendieta, Glenn Ligon, Belkis Ayón, and Luis Camnitzer, and Tiona Nekkia McClodden.

Friday-Saturday, Dec. 2-3

Friday, Dec. 2 – 4:30-6:30 PM — Lecture/Workshop: The Brad Johnson Tape, X – On Subjugation, 2017 + Af-Fixing Ceremony: Four Movements for Essex, Movement I: Essex + Audre, 2015
Saturday, Dec. 3 at 1 PM – NYC visit to the Museum of Modern Art

This installation summons the presence of Brad Johnson (American, 1952–2011), a Black gay poet whose “embrace of violence, sex, cruising, and, more importantly, his investment in love” shaped his work, McClodden writes. To make the installation, the artist, who saw her own experience reflected in Johnson’s writings, immersed herself in the poet’s archive. She has filled the gallery with objects that relate to his biography and sexuality: rose petals, naval paraphernalia, and leather objects used in BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, masochism) play, among other items.

In the central video, McClodden hangs upside down in her studio while reciting “On Subjugation,” a 1988 poem by Johnson. “For me, the experience of pain through BDSM has often been a form of self-care that lets me know where I can and cannot go with my body,” McClodden says. “This is important to me in a society that . . . places such severe restrictions on the Black body.” Using her figure as a medium, she pays tribute to Johnson’s ideas in the present.

Between 2014 and 2017, McClodden revived the work of deceased Black queer artists who were active during the 1980s AIDS epidemic, including the poet and activist Essex Hemphill. Here, McClodden remakes a scene from Marlon Riggs’s essay-film Tongues Untied (1989), in which Hemphill recites a passage from writer Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984). McClodden describes the video as “a portrait of self-contained conflict and rage,” with Hemphill gazing directly into the camera. Conceived as a “duet” between Hemphill and Lorde, it also underscores Hemphill’s commitment to Black feminist thought, highlighting the transfer of language and influence from one poet-activist to another.


Presented By

  • Program in Visual Arts