The First Time, Ever I Saw Your Face is a traveling group exhibition commissioned by The Colored Girls Museum. The title of the exhibition was inspired by Roberta Flack’s iconic 1972 rendition of the same name, on display by appointment only from February 26, 2021 through April 30, 2021. The Colored Girls Museum is a Black-women founded, collectively led house museum whose mission emerges out of our sincere duty to African Diasporic histories, cultural traditions, and political commitments. The museum is located at 4613 Newhall St, Philadelphia, PA 19144. Please visit thecoloredgirlsmuseum.com to book an appointment and for more information.
The series features six paintings by Black female artists of Black girls ages 10-18. The artists and their muses include Misha McGlowen and Madison Proctor, Nile Livingston and Tyjanae Williams, Chanell Phillips and Christen Harvey, Serena Saunders and Myka Ollison, Aysha Ray Walker and Haley Ray, and Tara Pearson aka Misty Sol and Ayah Pearson.
Nile Livingston’s (The Artist) statement for her painting of Tyjanae Williams for the exhibition ‘The First Time, Ever I Saw Your Face’ commissioned by The Colored Girls Museum:
I approached this opportunity by exploring the multiplicity of who is considered a Colored Girl in a time when the most common images conjured by the language reflect high-femme, presumed cis-het persons. My intention was to defy expectations by including someone that is typically under-represented in the sense of who deserves to be on the walls of museums, but that I often see in my immediate community around Philadelphia. I distinctly wanted to find a dark skinned, masculine presenting young girl to be my muse because I felt as though this embodiment could add clarification to the ways of being in the world. The first time that I ever saw her face, I felt honored to be able to have this opportunity to paint the beauty of Tyjanae Williams.
Tyjanae is the focus point of my painting, with her locks framing her intense facial expression, her natural posture and body language that feels both wide from her open legs and arms while simultaneously protective as her hands lock in front, and the decadent rose tattoo on her hand. I didn’t want to include narrative clues in the background and so I embraced Tyjanae in royal purple color obtained from a mixture of the paint that I sampled from her blue jeans and red bubble jacket because of my desire to light this individual with as much central visibility as possible, and because having less around her meant that viewers can fully consider her complexities.
Tyjanae Williams’s (The Muse) Biography:
Tyjanae Williams was born in 2002 as one of nine siblings. She prefers the nickname Tahj. While her grandmother raised her in North Philadelphia, she did not grow up with her siblings. Nonetheless, her grandmother provided a calm upbringing that balanced and nurtured her inherently introverted spirit with her athletic prowess in basketball, baseball, and football. Sports at the Connie Mack Recreation Center was Tahj’s community connection and an outlet to do things that El Centro de Estudiantes could not support because of lacking resources. Tahj names her grandmother as the person who inspires her the most because of her work ethic. Witnessing her grandmother’s tireless efforts to ensure her safety and health informs Tahj’s biggest goal—to become a restaurateur who motivates other people to fulfill their wildest dreams while believing in themselves and living confidently.