Interdisciplinary-artist Pamela Woolford is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Creativity Grant, a Changemaker Challenge Award, and a NES Artist Residency in Iceland for her upcoming 2020 project Carter, Clinton, Trump: A Mem-Noir, a memoir and interactive, multi-sensory exhibition with augmented reality, provoking the question, “What legacy do U.S. presidents leave Black Americans through their bigotry against the Black race?” Her multi-award-wining 2018 film Generation continues to receive acclaim from critics, artists, and curators and has been an official selection for a dozen arts and film festivals in three continents. In the fall of 2020, the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at the Smith Center in Washington, DC, will feature a three-month show of Pamela Woolford's work, and she will be the Bisson lecturer in the humanities at Marymount University that fall.
She has been the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, an Official Citation from the Maryland House of Delegates, the 2019 Black Continental Independent Movie Award for Originality and jury-award nomination for Best Short Film; the 2019 CR8:BLK Black Women Cinema Week Audience Choice Award; the 2018 North Beach American Film Festival Jury Award for Best Experimental Film, Animation Film, or Music Video; a 2018 Canada Shorts Award of Commendation; a 2018 Experimental Forum Honorary Mention Award for “vision and…unique contribution to cinema;” and two 2018 Pushcart Prize nominations for short fiction, among other honors.
She is the author of more than 100 published fiction, memoir, profile, human-interest, and think pieces in The Baltimore Sun, Poets & Writers Magazine, the NAACP's Crisis Magazine, Harvard University’s Transition, and other publications. Her writings have been selected for anthologies and translated into German.
ARTIST MISSION STATEMENT
"As a writer, filmmaker, performer, and producer, I am a multidisciplinary storyteller. As such I specialize in literary nonfiction stories, fiction inspired by true-life stories, and fiction inspired by the history of a people. I reflect on memories and intimate moments from my own life and the lives of others to increase visibility of underrepresented groups and expand empathy.
"My work is especially concerned with the lives of black women and girls and others whose joy, history, and inner life are underexplored in American media and popular art. My work is about truth.
"I hope to tell the truth in a way that does not bow to fear, whether fear of my own thoughts or fear of the thoughts of others, so that I can take life's unsavory bits along with the lovely bits and lay them bare in the openness of the screen, the stage, the page. In so doing I endeavor to turn a particular space in the world into a source of communing, reaching beyond that particular to touch the lives of others."
"For example, I have taken the stories my mother has told me since I was a small child, about her life growing up in rural North Carolina in the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s; about the roots of her love of literature; about getting books from the reading van that librarians would drive up to her family’s remote wooden cabin; about reading from those books to her family of ten sisters and brothers; about finding solace in nature and the arts in the midst of a dirt poor childhood with a heart and eyes seared by the sight and sounds of her father’s brutal abuse of her mother, and I have used her life as a leaping off point to write about a little girl named Mable, a central figure in my story “Just After Supper” about empowerment and strength and finding one’s way through the terrorizing muck of life. My grandfather James became “John” in the telling, and I told of his love of literature and humor and his own sorry childhood and where he went wrong. I wrote that story and then I turned that story into a film, using my own body, my own soul, and my own voice, and my own pain and joy represented as movement to narrate that tale.
"It’s won me some awards, and more importantly, has started conversations about these lives and other lives like them and sparked memories and sharing and even opened some eyes to some things people had not known or had not really thought about. So, that's what I do, I create these stories and moments, and people think about them, let them wander around in their head and do some magic and hopefully some good."