Sacred Spaces Written by Sariane Leigh

April 1, 2010

Sacred Spaces
Written by Sariane Leigh
Contributions by Meghan Guidry, Joyce Angela Jellison, Binhakye Joy, Teisha Marie and  Shondra Goudry

Poet, artist and activist, Joyce Angela Jellison sought to uncover the modern day “underground railroad” of mainstream visibility at the first Sacred Spaces Conference at the Cambridge Community Center in Boston, Massachusetts on March 27. The Sacred Spaces Conference and Community serves as an open access opportunity for creative women of color to discuss their process and methodology to create and explore sacred spaces.
What is sacred in the public and in the private realms of women’s lives? Where do women of color find the hidden transcript? Where can women of color operate outside of the mainstream?
The term sacred is often associated with something spiritual, something sanctified and reverent. Yet, many women discover their sacred spaces during or after an experience that violates their most personal sanctity. Sacred Spaces are about the hidden transcript woven between the vile and the sanctified. There, hidden between the layers, exists a platform for an inner dialogue where women create rooms for new and transformative bodies to rest. For women of color, this inner dialogue is often non- linear and layered with narratives of trauma that go unspoken, unexplored and uncovered. These inner dialogues are the next generation of sacred spaces.  For women of color, entering into an arena of the unspoken unveils the observer and requires that the observer become an active participant in this space.  In order to breathe life into these spaces, everyone present must be vulnerable and all must confess their compassion and prepare for the prospect of pain. Among these sacred spaces, often described as art, poetry, research, song, dance, theater or work, you will likely experience a woman’s trauma, her healing and her journey.
Sacred Space demands an interactive experience.  Whether it is the compelling experience of woman describing in a short story her memory lapses after violent child hood abuse or the poetic appreciation of a stripper working on K Street in Washington DC, the goal of the sacred space is to bring you in. Bringing the “you” into “our” process. An invitation often tossed aside. Our traumas are exposed on the nightly global news, analyzed in international health reports  and funded in the next federal budget line item. Yet, our methodologies for healing fearlessly play with boundaries and critically question the spaces defined by these outside forces. So we go within. We go within because the conventions designed to help us have failed, but only as long as we have let them.
Sacred Space conference participants, The Saartie Project named after the infamous South African  Sarah Bartman explores the Black woman’s mody in a theater production, called “Deconstructing the Myth of the Booty”. Black women throughout the United States write and perform vignettes about their most intimate challenges with being a modern black women existing within  post-colonial social construct but with the haunting memory of Sarah Baartman’s experience. What was Sarah Baartman’s inner dialogue as she was paraded throughout Europe  in a cage through a violating and dehumanizing display of her womanhood?  Was Sarah Bartman’s sacred space the same as a black the stripper working in a cage on K Street? Or does our emphatic plea for acknowledging her pain omit her agency?  The Sacred Space is about discovering the conversational space of pain and triumph among black and brown woman. The Sacred Space is about the new forms of artistic expression that continue to push boundaries and produce new movements. Sacred Spaces are about the transformative qualities of our surroundings or environment that we can control by building sustainable creative communities that let build empathetic connections for conversion. The Sacred Space is an entry point and invites you to be a participant and witness another’s and hopefully your own and transformation.
The next Sacred Space Event will be in Washington DC 2011.
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On Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 1:35 PM, Joyce Angela Jellison <> wrote:

To My Wonderful Presenters:
Thank you all for your wonderful presentations and participation. I apologize for the low turn out and seemingly lack of organization. I tried to really bring something together special for us - but I am aware the experience was not so great for some of you. I sincerly apologize and wish you the best. If anything please feel free to host and facilitate Sacred Spaces in your respective communities - this will be a way to keep the light/discussions developing - this will keep the change happening - the connections alive.
Love and Light to you all,

Joyce Angela Jellison
Write Out Loud:Transforming Our Lives Through Writing Our Truths




Sariane Leigh
MA, Women's Studies '09
The George Washington University


This is home - Let us not depart from one another by Joyce Angela Jellison

April 1, 2010

I have been in Boston almost five years and in this time I have felt I have been alone, in a wilderness seeking a space to express my unique happiness, joy and rage. I have been in essence, contained. It has been an unusual containment. I have been moving freely and with purpose but often feeling displaced and mistranslated.
I wonder are we all displaced peoples seeking homes in the sacred spaces of one another’s hearts? Are we all seeking sacred space in the fickle acceptance of an unwillin...

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