“I’m hoping to inspire young girls interested in art … but I’m also hoping that I inspire other women – particularly Black women who have lost themselves along the pathway of life who are maybe looking at me and seeing what I’m doing in the second half of life and embracing it,” says artist Lilada Gee. “Maybe they will feel like they can do it, too, whatever it may be … that they give themselves permission to fully be themselves.”
Art has been a huge passion and inspiration in Gee’s life and this Friday she is hoping to inspire people with her artwork at her premiere Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) Fall Gallery Night hosted by Mad City Dream Homes, 1619 Monroe St.
Organized by MMoCA and taking place at more than 60 venues around town, Gallery Night is a longtime Madison tradition that offers art lovers and art novices alike an opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of exhibitions, opening receptions, special events, and demonstrations.
“Gallery Night is a cool initiative by MMoCA. They do it each spring and fall and it’s something that I wanted to be a part of for a while because I have gone for many years and I have never seen Black artists reflected,” Gee tells Madison365. “I’ll see some Black art but even the art I see isn’t by Black artists and so I’m really happy to partner with Mad City Dream Homes, who is sponsoring this for me, and be a part of it this year.
“I think it’s important for young artists and young folks to see us in this creative sphere and I’m really excited to be bringing forth, in particular, art items that help to inspire Black girls,” she adds.
There will be delicious refreshments, great conversation, and wonderful art at the Gallery Night with Lilada Gee. There will also be many different types of fabulous gift ideas with Gee’s artwork including yard signs, framed prints, 2022 calendars, affirmation stickers, coloring books, bookmarks, and more.
“It’s fun because everyone can’t go and buy an expensive piece of artwork, so one of the things that I really love to do is to create art that is both affordable and functional,” Gee says. “It becomes part of daily practice to be infused by art that’s inspiring.
“We will also be selling ‘Joy Jars.’ It’s something you can get for little girls in your lives. I’m also debuting a coloring book for boys. I’ve gotten so many doggone requests for that,” she adds. “I’ll also have affirmation kits there, too, that people can buy for a girl in their life they want to inspire.”
Gee’s inspiring artwork promotes and supports the mission of Defending Black Girlhood, which Gee started to inform, inspire and challenge her listeners to take bold actions towards making this world a safer place for Black girls to live, learn and be loved.
“The move of my work right now is around really helping to equip those who work with Black girls, parents, educators, community advocates – to really understand the story of Black girls so they can better aid in defending them in their homes, their schools and in the community,” she says.
Gee is also the founder of Lilada’s Livingroom and Black Women Heal, organizations that help women and girls deal with trauma of abuse. Gee is a childhood survivor of sexual abuse who has committed her life to the defending of Black girlhood and the healing of Black women. In the last few years, she has become a prolific artist with her artwork on lawn signs in Madison, on beer labels and featured on murals and more.
“My artwork — being able to do art — is an absolute gift and joy. I was just talking to a friend about this. About 10-15 years ago, I was listening to this book on tape — ‘The Second Half of Life’ by Angeles Arrien and it talked about when we get to that second half of life you turn back to the places that gave you joy that you didn’t question when you were a child,” Gee says. “And you start longing for the places that you belong and you’re at the level of maturity where you give yourself permission to be. You’re not asking, ‘Can I be this?’
“That was embedded in my life before I got to the second half of life and by the time that heard that, I didn’t think that it would be art. But art was the thing at a very difficult time of my life as a child. It was the only thing that gave me peace growing up in a very traumatizing house of abuse,” Gee adds. “So being able to, as an adult woman in the second half of my life, return to something that gave me peace and joy and find that same peace and same joy is amazing. And now I’m able to share that peace and joy with others and it is an incredible feeling and I am so deeply grateful for this opportunity.”
Fall 2021 Gallery Night will be held on Friday, November 12. All venues participating in Gallery Night are open free of charge. To see a list of more than 60 venues of the event, click here.