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Tracie Morris and Queen Godls Featured at Creative Capital’s The Lab
Creative Capital’s blog, The Lab, features an excerpt from Creative Capital grantees Tracie Morris and Queen Godls’s recent conversation at The Brooklyn Museum. We excerpt their conversation here. (Be sure to listen to the full podcast, online too!)
Queen: Yes! Ladies and gentlemen, we are actually sitting in the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum, which is a special place for both of us because we both have ties to Brooklyn and its ever-changing state. So, I wanted to jump right into the first question that I have for you, which is a question that sparked my original Creative Capital project, which was inspired by the work of Octavia Butler and that did really explore what future means for me. And that question that I had to ask to get the body of that work, which I’m still developing, is: Who are you, and what were you before?
Tracie: I don’t know yet. I don’t think I have a definition for who I am; I’m still figuring that out. Who I was? Quite a few things, but one of the good things I think I was sick. And I’m just realizing, in the last five years or so, how being born sick was such a blessing for me and my life, weirdly. It was certainly anxiety-inducing for me and my family, especially when I was born and really small, but a lot of the stuff that is coming to fruition now is rooted in the fact that I was severely ill as a child. And now I’m an extremely healthy adult, but I was born at a turning point.
Queen: First of all, how do you define sick? I think that’s a really provocative idea.
Tracie: It’s true. I was born with a lot of physical challenges. Some of them were undiagnosable. I was pretty much touch-and-go for the first four years of my life. People didn’t expect me to live past infancy. So then I carried some of those problems with me until after puberty, and then I had a relapse as soon as I started college—probably somewhat induced by stress, but also because I was a frail person. So anyway, I won’t pull out my teeny tiny violin, I’ll just say that how it helped me was, I grew up in a really difficult neighborhood at a really difficult time—New York housing projects, difficult time—and being sick kept me from a lot of aspects of that environment that threw off a lot of people, like not being able to run around and play as much kept me out of the streets; it made me much more bookish; it made me explore my imagination. I think I learned how to empathize and try not to judge people by their bodies because my relationship with my body was so tenuous. And I think there’s also dark places I’m not as afraid to go in with my work because I’ve been in a lot of dark places. So, I think that that was helpful. The life that I’m living now was unimaginable to me when I was little. I mean, I literally couldn’t conceive of being an artist and being a professor. How’d that happen? That wasn’t something that I thought about.