Shalewa Mackall


This work and I originate in the USA, more specifically from Lenapehoking, the homeland of the Lenape where I was born and now live. We are evidence of histories of dislocation, extermination, resilience, and resistance, calling out to the future, full of hope.

Suite for the Ancestor
I Hope to Be

Artist Notes

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Credits for Video

Suite for the Ancestor I Hope to Be (Video, 4:46)
Created and performed by Shalewa Mackall
Videography and Editing by Rebecca Scheckman

Installation concept and building Shalewa Mackall with the support of Charlene Thomas

Thanks to Akinsheye Brunson, Leslie McIntosh, Aqila Norris, and Adenike Phillips for project support.

Shalewa Mackall

Shalewa Mackall



Shalewa Mackall–Brooklynite, Garifuna woman, Gen X-er, mother, daughter, endometrial cancer survivor, pie maker, and Deep House head–creates in the tradition of Sankofa. Inspired by aesthetic traditions and creative movements that recycle, repurpose and reinvent as they imagine forward, she is developing work joining poetry, personal ethnography, memoir and performance.

Mackall has more than 30 years of experience teaching, performing, and creating traditional and contemporary African Diaspora dance with Giwayen Mata, Maimouna Keita, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Rashida Bumbray/Dance Diaspora and her own Movement for the Urban Village Dance Company/MUV. Her choreography was presented at Joyce SOHO, BAM/Fisher, Judson Church, SummerStage and other venues.

Publications include: Infinite Constellations, eds. Khadijah Queen & K. Ibura, Obsidian, African Writer Magazine, The 50in50 Project in New York and Los Angeles, and the 2019 Visible Poetry Project. She has had fellowships with Obsidian/ Poetry Foundation O Sessions, Earthseed Black Family History Project, The Watering Hole, and Poets House (2019).

She is a four-time VONA alumna, and has developed her craft in workshops with Tin House, Cave Canem (NYC), and other literary and creative communities. She teaches dance and Black Studies at Saint Ann’s School, where she also leads the Interdisciplinary Studies Program.


What wild dreams do I have for my descendents?
If the Black woman is divine, what kind of god do I want to be?
Suite for the Ancestor I Hope to Be opens an exploration of these questions. I take inspiration from so many pandemic t-shirts, visioning sessions with a rich community of friends to my mind and heart, Black literary foremothers, sheroes, sisterfriends, and my ancestors. Particularly present with me for this iteration of the work were, Ntozake Shange (ibae bayen tonu), Lucille Clifton (ibae bayen tonu), and my Mamita, Eva Arriola (ibae bayen tonu).

Black Listening's website front page header art and Obsidian 49.2 cover art were  created by Nettrice Gaskins

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