Germantown artists featured in Free Library exhibit

by Len Lear
Posted 12/21/23

In a new exhibit at the Free Library’s Parkway Central branch, four Germantown artists examine Black culture.

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Germantown artists featured in Free Library exhibit


In a new exhibit at the Free Library’s Parkway Central branch, four Germantown artists examine Black culture as part of a collaborative showcase in the West Gallery One.

The artists are part of a group of 12 whose work is on display in “The In-Between Spaces” which opened Nov. 13 and will run through Feb. 2024.

According to a prepared statement by the artists, “the exhibit “reacquaints the unknown by connecting those makers and subjects to contemporary Black thinkers across time and, in turn, rewrites the record. One feature of an archive of Black memory is that it must by necessity include many items connected to unknown or unidentified makers and subjects.”

Doriana Diaz, of Germantown, the exhibition’s curator and one of the artists whose work is on display, said the work “explores the vessels and tides of the collective aesthetic memory of Blackness through mediums such as film, photography, collage, bookmaking, music and more, all of them focusing on the importance of Black archival practices.” 

Diaz is a multi-dimensional collage artist and one of the 2023 recipients of the Black Music City grant, which enables her collage work to be funded by REC Philly, WXPN and WRTI 90.1. She is working on a project called “Sisters in Rhythm, A House of Our Own.” 

“My grandmother taught me to love with my hands; therefore, I prefer the medium of handmade collage because I believe there is a specific energy transfer from my hands to the work itself,” she said. “My collages are a reminder to Black people across the diaspora that we are the blueprint; the map to the universe is planted in our wombs. My work is an homage to us all.”

Naomieh Jovin, A first-generation Haitian-American, uses photos in her artwork. Jovin, who also lives in Germantown, creates her work using photos from old family albums and her own photos “to illustrate resistance and intergenerational trauma and how we carry the experiences of our past and our families’ pasts in our bodies.” 

Jovin earned a BFA in photography and digital arts from Moore College of Art & Design in 2017. Her work has been featured in The Nation and Buzzfeed, and she has photographed for The New York Times and Vogue Italia. Jovin was selected as a LensCulture 2021 Critics’ Choice winner, awarded an artist residence at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and was recently named a 2021 PEW Fellow in the Arts.

Another of the Germantown artists, Tomarra Sankara-Kilombo, is the owner of Black Soul Vintage, an Afro-centric consignment shop at 90 E. Church Lane which opened in May of 2022. Sankara-Kilombo previously ran the store primarily through online sales and pop-up shops around the city. 

“I’ve always loved history,” she told the Local in an earlier interview. “When I was little, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I always have loved digging and finding and reading and writing. So that was the number one thing that I was hoping people would get out of Black Soul Vintage is the books.

“I started to add the other things because those were things that I really liked,” she continued. “You walk into Goodwill; you walk into a thrift store from anywhere; it’s like everything is white-centric. So I was like, what if we had that same space, but Black was at the center?”

The fourth Germantown artist whose work is on display is multi-disciplinary artist B. Carrie-Yvonne. Inspired by the practice of archiving Black art and life, they decided to start archiving their own life and the lives of their family members through footnotes and film photography. 

Carrie-Yvonne has “witnessed how Black folks’ stories have historically been misrepresented to fit a certain narrative and wants to leave behind a legacy of truth so no one will ever have to wonder who they were or what they stood for.”

Carrie-Yvonne uses poetry to write about a wide range of Black birth stories – from abortions to miscarriages and those families who bring a baby home – and the people behind them. 

Carrie-Yvonne said they became a birth worker “so that they can assist Black birthing folks through the birthing process and write their stories.”

For more information about the exhibit, contact @bydorianadiaz or Len Lear can be reached at