Local Filmmaker to Debut New Work at the Columbia Museum of Art

Friday, January 12th, 2018

The Columbia Museum of Art presents the exhibition bridge/refrain, on view in the Caroline Guignard Community Gallery from January 15 through February 25, 2018, from compelling local artist and filmmaker Roni Nicole Henderson.

bridge/refrain is a short film that uses musical themes and concepts to examine complex issues of violence and bodily integrity, particularly regarding women and people of color. It explores a young woman’s arrival to the land of the ancestors after falling victim to gun violence. Here, she discovers that, though there is healing for her wounds and safety in the arms of benevolent beings, her work is far from done. A beautiful antique vanity serves as a vehicle through which she discovers her charge and her crown—black bodies buckling but not breaking under the weight of American life.

“I have always been in love with a transportive bridge in a beautiful song,” says Henderson. “The bridge is where the song takes flight and becomes something else. This magic moment in music is my point of departure for this film. In the wake of so much violence in our world, I wanted—needed, rather—to imagine that these young folk who had been shot down by cowards could be offered some refrain, that maybe, if their soul could leap from a bullet-ridden body and ‘go’ somewhere, then their lives could serve a larger purpose. Death serves as a bridge, not an end. Our hero gets an opportunity to take up a torch of sorts and help those with targets on their backs.”

The film was commissioned by the CMA with the support of a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation.
“Commissioning Roni to create critical work emphasizes our efforts to present the work of dynamic artists and our commitment to highlighting voices in our community that deepen our understanding of the world,” says Jackie Adams, CMA director of education & engagement. “bridge/refrain invites us to bear witness and to connect ourselves to each other through a film that poetically explores the profound issues of violence facing our communities today.”

Henderson earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2008. Her films have been featured in the Blackstar, Crown Heights, and Pan African film festivals, and her work has been exhibited across the U.S. and internationally; her photography was featured in the 2016 CMA exhibition Spoken: Portraits in Black. Based in Columbia, Henderson is an active member of the arts community. She currently serves as Indie Grits Lab’s filmmaker-in-residence as well as on the leadership team for their upcoming Two Cities project.

“I am thankful that the CMA has provided a platform for this story,” says Henderson. “Women are powerful leaders, and, as evidenced by the exhibitions of powerhouse storytellers Renée Cox and Imogen Cunningham, can deliver sublime messages as masters at their respective crafts. I am honored and humbled to share space with them.”

bridge/refrain seeks to honor the feminine energy as both protector and nurturer while confronting the epidemic of all manner of violence against women. In the tradition of photographer Imogen Cunningham, the film honors the female form with a graceful eye.

“Working with other women in key positions to bring this film to life was a gift in itself,” says Henderson. “Cinematographer Iyabo Kwayana worked diligently to sculpt this posthumous space through masterful use of light, shadow, and elegant camera work. Composer Saira Raza weaved cello-laden soundscapes to properly lead us through the land of the ancestors. Production Designer Venecia Nahai worked with her team to manifest the physical reality of a place beyond the body. I believe the magic that was created on set by this powerful matriarchal energy permeates the film.”

bridge/refrain Programs and Activities:
These projects are supported by a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation.
The FAAAC presents In Celebration of Dreamers
Monday, January 15 | Noon – 3:00 p.m.
Join the Friends of African American Art & Culture to celebrate bridge/refrain: a short film. The drop-in celebration honors the legacies of our ancestors and recharges us for the work happening now and yet to come. Meet the artist, craft affirmation keepsakes, move to the rhythm of vocal and dance performances by NAACP’s ACT-SO Columbia Chapter, and explore the galleries during this lively day of self-care for all ages. Free admission in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Food available for purchase.
Film Screening and Talk with Artist Roni Nicole Henderson
Thursday, February 15 | Doors open at 6:00 p.m. with light reception | Film Screening at 6:30 p.m.
Join us for a film screening and artist’s talk with featured community gallery artist Roni Nicole Henderson and her short film bridge/refrain. Henderson’s work explores a young woman’s arrival in the land of the ancestors after falling victim to gun violence. Light reception and cash bar. $5 / free for members.