Black History Month is a fundamental part of our nation’s tradition, in which we recognize important historical events, honorable leaders and steps towards community well-being. Encompassing Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday weekend and all throughout February, the Library champions Black history, culture and heritage with programs spotlighting Black authors, artists, makers and movers. This celebration is titled More Than a Month in an effort to emphasize that reflection, open dialogue, interdisciplinary education and shared advocacy needs to take place in our communities during Black History Month, as well as all year round.
This year, in concert with Black History Month’s national theme of the importance of Black Health and Wellness, the Library offers free meditation, yoga and craft programs with local creators and businesses, as well as art programs in partnership with the Museum of the African Diaspora.
Join us to continue understanding, respecting and celebrating Black history and culture in San Francisco and beyond.
This winter, we’re proud to partner with Rev. Dr. Carolyn Ransom-Scott to offer her Black Inventors bookmarks to the San Francisco community. A San Francisco native, Dr. Scott grew up in the Western Addition in the 1950s and has served her city and community since she was 10 years old, most recently as a commissioner for the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure.
A highlight of our More Than a Month celebration, the bookmark is available at all SFPL locations, with an accompanying opening celebration, exhibit and public program documenting Black innovation in the past, present and future.
Artist Spotlight: Tiffany Conway
Tiffany Conway’s visual paintings are the break of generational curses and the door to beautiful beginnings. Conway overcame stereotypes and an absent mother due to addiction and began speaking life to herself first. Raised in the Bay Area, California by her father and stepmother, Conway grew her creativity from life experiences.
Visit Conway's website, Project Get Free.
Her college career studying at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and the Peralta Colleges of Alameda County came to a halt due to life happenings outside of her control. A setback birthed a purpose that changed the trajectory of Conway’s life for the better. Seeing the beauty and struggle of the human experience was the driving force behind a new declaration, to see and make visual the beauty and struggle of her experiences.
Using her life’s adversity as a creative mechanism, Conway cultivated Project Get Free: The Coloring Book for Navigating the Diaspora in 2016. The coloring book was a response to song lyrics transformed into a “visual journal”. This was the beginning of a journey of restoration, finding her voice and purpose. These visual “conversations with self” birthed a motivation to showcase her art in several exhibitions including "Right Here, Right Now Richmond" at the Richmond Art Center and the "Black Brilliance” at Macy's Union Square in San Francisco.
While using color as her primary vehicle in terms of language, her work displays the beauty of others. What lies behind that initial layer are parts of her personal story of evolution. Her mission is to heal women through her paintings by displaying them as seen, soft, and resilient. Recently, Conway won an Artistic Achievement Award for the 2020 exhibition entitled “The Art of the African Diaspora” at The Richmond Art Center in Richmond California. Conway continues to stimulate conversations and awakenings through her work.
We sat down for a brief conversation with Tiffany Conway.
Who or what inspired you to become an artist?
Art chose me as I've always been creative but painting moved to the forefront of my creative practices because it allowed me the complete autonomy to create as I see fit.
What tools did you use to create your More Than a Month art?
I'm partial to oil paint--because I paint people, I feel like it's the best medium to work in when representing people. When creating art for More Than a Month, I kept it simple with oil paint and canvas.
How have libraries played a role in your life?
If it weren't for libraries, I wouldn’t have had access to the various art forms that exist around the world. And having the library as a resource, I was able to take my art history education even further.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is the first step in the acknowledgment of our contributions to this country. It is a reminder to be proud of my history, my heritage, and my culture and to celebrate with joy.
What are some things you like to do for self-care?
I was particularly excited about this collaboration because I'm a huge champion for meditation. Just five minutes a day can make a big difference in setting the tone for your day. It is my primary source for self-care in addition to baths, prayer, cooking with healthy intentions.
“Art has provided me with the tools to communicate in a way that I was not able to do before. And for that, I am forever grateful for the practice. Art allows me to retreat, restore, and express all that I have learned from moving through the world as a woman. Art connects me to the power that lives within that I’m not always able to see.”—Tiffany Conway