“If ever I have met anyone who was willing to change the world by her own vision it is Pamela Woolford. ... It is holy work [she's] doing"
Grace Cavalieri, host of the Library of Congress podcast The Poet and the Poem
"an absolutely wonderful voice"
Mollie Glick, CAA literary agent for Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden, and Pulitzer Prize winning journalists
"Pamela’s artistry opens a window to allow us to view ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors...." it's "precious...and deserves a wide audience.”
Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
“a gifted writer…doing what [she was] born to do—mine a good story.”
Dawn Davis, publisher of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae, The Butler by Wil Haygood, The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner, and more
Pamela Woolford is an interdisciplinary artist, intertwining her work as a writer, immersive-media director, filmmaker, and performer to create new forms of narrative work about Black women and girls, and others whose joy, imagination, and inner life are under-explored in American media and popular art. She is the recipient of six Maryland State Arts Council Awards, five film-festival awards internationally, a Changemaker Challenge Award from United Way of Central Maryland and Horizon Foundation, two Baker Artist Awards in interdisciplinary arts, an aSHE Fund Micro-Grant, and a host of other honors. She is a 2023 James Weldon Johnson Fellow in the Arts from the James Weldon Johnson Foundation with a Residency at Bard College at Simon's Rock. She has been awarded a Storyknife Writers Residency, a NES Artist Residency, and an Official Citation from the Maryland House of Delegates and has been the Bisson Lecturer in the Humanities at Marymount University.
Woolford's multimedia installation Antoine and Me exhibited at the Baltimore Museum of Art during 2022 to 2023 in a show voted one of the top 5 exhibitions in the Baltimore area during the show's opening year by BmoreArt magazine. Her latest film, Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir, had a limited online release with a virtual premiere event attended by 1.5 thousand people.
Woolford has authored more than 100 memoir, fiction, profile, human-interest, and think pieces published in The Baltimore Sun, Poets & Writers Magazine, NAACP's Crisis Magazine, Harvard University’s Transition, and other publications. Her writings have been selected for anthologies, translated into German, and widely cited.
"A very powerful testimony..." "stunning and breathtaking... ...I really found myself...hypnotized by [her] voice"
Marita Golden, NPR Best Book author and Two-time NAACP Image Award nominee
"I'm a huge fan"
Stephanie Land, New York Times bestselling author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive, on which the Netflix series is based
Keep scrolling for Pamela Woolford's artist statement and her artist mission statement.
"REVOLUTIONARY.... a needed loving insurgencY."
Truth Thomas, NAACP Image Award-winning poet
"a really powerful presentation...extraordinary...breathtaking"
Andrew Simonet, writer, choreographer, and founder of Artist U
I am an interdisciplinary artist, intertwining my work as a writer, filmmaker, performer, and immersive-media director to create new forms of narrative work about Black women and girls, and others whose joy, imagination, and inner life are under-explored in American media and popular art.
I have been writing about my own life and the lives of, most often, Black artists, scholars, families, and neighbors as a memoirist, profile writer, and fiction writer for more than thirty years. I adapt the scripts for my performance and film work from these writings which I continue to create today. These writings take varied forms, such as memoir-in-verse, an essay about a photograph, and a short story based on the tales my mother told me in childhood about her own life as a child.
In my performance, film, and immersive-media work, I center my own Black, womanly, middle-aged body or voice and utilize movement-based art, 3D animation, sound and voiceover experimentation, or other nontraditional approaches to convey intimate moments and memories and the relationship between memory and imagination. Much of my work is inspired by my curiosity about the unveiling of truth through memory.
My intent is to amplify Black people's histories, emotional range, and inner lives, increasing visibility of people like me who are underrepresented in both traditional and experimental art spaces. I work to offer us a place for communing, a place for seeing, hearing, and remembering ourselves in new ways that recall old memories, feelings, trials, and triumphs.
Other people (and empathy) are also there, welcome, and touched.
"The messages [Pamela] shares [are] evocative .... offer[ing] acknowledgement to silent traumas… it was meaty, and it was unforgettable. "
journalist Yvonne Medley
"Woolford’s strength lies in her ability to marry historical research, personal narrative, and fiction in such a way that the viewer learns so much about the subjects she investigates, but through a personal lens that makes each story intimate.... Woolford is a powerful performer and...offers us a story that feels familiar and compelling..."
Cara Ober, arts writer and founding publisher of BmoreArt
"there’s a tenderness to the personal scale of Woolford’s work that feels healing and optimistic...”
arts critic Michael Anthony Farley
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."
"there is an intersection where other people can relate in a communal way.... ...it’s very clever work. It’s more than clever. It’s very inspirational work, very edgy, and a beautiful documentation."
literary artist Catrice Greer
Photos by Bridget Turner.