The USA has been experiencing record-breaking heat but, and his might sound strange, because I lived in Egypt for six years, as a result I developed a high tolerance for heat and if it’s not above 95 degrees I don’t really feel it. It wasn’t always this way for me, but it’s amazing how our bodies can adapt to new places and new circumstances. That’s what we do when we immigrate from one place to the other. We change on a physiological level and we also change the new spaces we enter.

Nsenga Knight, A Cross Time, 2009, Wall Drawing with Ink and Gaffer’s tape, Dimensions Variable

I rarely think of myself as the child of immigrants, maybe because I grew up in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, where to be Black was to be Afro- Caribbean. Where I grew up it was actually strange if neither you nor your parents were from the Caribbean. Nonetheless, my father is from Trinidad and mother is from Guyana. I’ve travelled to Trinidad multiple times but I’ve never been to Guyana and my mother hasn’t been there since she was 14. This is especially why I am so excited to have accepted an invitation to present in an international conference on Muslims in the Caribbean later this summer. My mother has always been my greatest supporter and it was only a few weeks ago that I was having lunch at Fareida’s Dhal Puri Hut in Little Guyana here in Queens as part of the new iteration of Muhammad School of Language and Martial Arts. Something inside me has been yearning to connect more with Guyana.

Nsenga Knight post-lunch with artist-friend and Queens College professor Chloe Bass and Radikha Singh, Queens resident at Fareida’s Dhal Puri Hut in the Little Guyana neighborhood as part of Knight’s Queens Museum In Situ Fellowship social practice project

As part of my research and process during my In-Situ Residency and Fellowship at Queens Museum, both in and outside the studio, I have been thinking a lot about the idea of returning to the self. With this presentation opportunity coming up, I’m looking forward to talking about the story of my family’s immigration to the States, growing up in a Muslim Caribbean American household, and how that shapes my artistic practice today. Through my artistic research and practice I have learned a lot about Black Muslims in the US and the nuances of Afro-Caribbean culture and history. The Caribbean is such a rich and vibrant part of the world and a real crossroad for understanding African diasporic culture. For me, it answers so many questions and puts a time-stamp on preserving African tradition. Gaining knowledge about my community and sharing it helps me to learn more about myself and contribute to a deeper understanding about Black and Muslim people all over the world.

Nsenga Knight, Muhammad School of Language and Martial Arts, Oct 24, 2015 – Feb 29, 2016, Social Practice and Installation at Project Rowhouses, 2511 Holman St Houston TX. A reenactment of Knight’s X Speaks performance and social practice project.

Through my creative work I’ve been forging and maintaining connections with my community, creating spaces for us to congregate, have conversations, connect with our history, and feel uplifted and inspired. I want to thank everyone of you for supporting me for as long as you have, and to ask that you continue to do so by sharing my work with others. If you haven’t yet, make sure to join my mailing list which has existed for over 15 years!

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