ARC Fellows: If We Must Die: Conversations about Grieving, Social Justice, Healing & Creating

ARC Fellows: If We Must Die: Conversations about Grieving, Social Justice, Healing & Creating

Submitted by our 2019 ARC Fellow Team:

Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle (Art Practice) & Ree Botts (African Diaspora Studies)

If We Must Die: Conversations about Grieving, Social Justice, Healing & Creating is a proposal initiated by Department of Art Practice faculty Kenyatta A.C Hinkle and Ree Botts an African Diaspora PhD student researching Black feminist spatial imaginaries and artistic curation as praxis in terms of self and communal care. They would like to host an art centered symposium in Spring 2020 featuring workshops and multiple exhibitions with artists, scholars and activists who make artwork concerning social justice and bringing awareness surrounding issues of the “Historical Present.” The title If We Must Die is inspired by Claude McKay’s poem written in 1919. In the summer of 2015 after the death of Sandra Bland and the Charleston Massacre, Hinkle called together an intimate gathering of artists friends to unpack, heal and grieve in honor of the poem. At this time her ability to create was at a standstill. Botts had a similar experience in which she began organizing conversations focused on survival and sharing strategies to heal through a horrific and recent time in our nation. In 2016 Hinkle had an urgent need to hold these conversations again within the context of the exhibition and performance Exploring The Nowannago: Kentifrican Modes of Resistance with collaborator Tyler Matthew Oyer, at Grand Central Art Center at Cal State Fullerton.

For this next iteration of If We Must Die, Hinkle would like to collaborate with Botts to host a special rendition at UC Berkeley. They want to create spaces for unpacking how we are all collectively and individually processing current tragic events related to police brutality, hate crimes, and global issues concerning injustice especially as they pertain to bodies that are within the periphery of society. How are these injustices, and the hypervisibility/invisibility of them informing our daily work and living practices? What are some strategies and plans that we can share for moving forward through these challenging times? This event will feature visual artists, writers, performers, cultural workers and activists from all over the nation. Through the building of this event we are asking ourselves:


  • How can art be used as a tool to cultivate space for grief, mourning, healing, awareness and transformation?
  • How can art be used to shift viewers from spectators to witnesses?
  • How can artists, activists and scholars collaboratively engage projects that radically shift discourses of domination?
  • How can we incorporate care for ourselves and in each other in our practices ?
  • What are the problematics of making work about/with and because of the dead, the erased, the targeted and the marginalized?


Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle is an interdisciplinary visual artist, writer and performer. She is an alum of CalArts in which she received her MFA in Art & Critical Studies-Creative Writing. Her artwork and performances of experimental texts have been reviewed by the LA Times, Artforum, The Huffington Post and The New York Times. Her writing has appeared in Not That But This, Obsidian Journal, and Among Margins: Critical & Lyrical Writing on Aesthetics. She is also the author of Kentifrications: Convergent Truth(s) & Realities published by Occidental College and Sming Sming Books. Hinkle is currently the Assistant Professor of Painting at UC Berkeley’s Department of Art Practice

Ree Botts is a poet, scholar, and activist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania pursuing a PhD in African Diaspora Studies, a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and a Certificate in Global Urban Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her MA of African American Studies and Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles and her BA in Sociology and Anthropology at Spelman College. Her research examines Black women’s healing spaces in Oakland as sites of cultivation, curation, and transcendence. Additionally, Ree is the proud founder of The Movement which supports Black women and girls in their processes of self love, self care and healing. She hosts a monthly healing space at UC Berkeley and speaks across the country on related topics. She is working on her first book entitled ree-centered : a poetic collection of selfology. For more information on Ree and The Selfology Movement, visit @reeciology, @theselfologymovemeny,, and



Note: Over the course of the spring semester, each 2019 ARC Fellows team will submit a short blog post about their project and findings. We hope you will enjoy these short readings! The Fellows Program advances interdisciplinary research in the arts at UC Berkeley by supporting self-nominated pairs of graduate students and faculty members as they pursue semester-long collaborative projects of their own design. To learn more about the program, click here.