/ De Pree Art Gallery


  • Mottled green and white paper in the shape of a leaf, with snippets of text visible throughout
  • Translucent black and white image of a Black woman's face layered over a color image of a Confederate statue

MARCH 1–MARCH 28, 2024

MOTHERROOT is an exhibition honoring Black motherhood and nurturing. By drawing connections between motherhood and plant life, the work featured here emphasizes the role that care, legacy, environment and nourishment play in creating the conditions for one to flourish. Programming in conjunction with the exhibition will include an artist talk, studio visits and a workshop in the Department of Art and Art History sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Committee.

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Mary Denise Lee and Rebecca Robenia Stephens.

The branching veins of a leaf
and the roots that nourish it
echo the veins in my great-grandmother’s hands
As she picked collards
Every Friday for Sabbath dinner.

The hands of my grandmother
now resemble her mother’s
as she stands before the same sink
picking greens for holiday dinners.

My own mother’s veins have just begun to emerge
gently rolling as she stands before her stove.

I think of the veins that ran beneath the skin of matriarchs
who picked greens for generations
before my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Their roots weathered many storms:
in shotgun homes on Baldwin Street,
on farms in Negro Heel,
on the banks of the James River,
on homesteads in West Africa,

so that I could blossom.

Becci Davis (she/they) was born on a military installation in Georgia named after General Henry L. Benning of the Confederate States Army. Her birth began her family's first generation after the Civil Rights Act and its fifth generation post-Emancipation. As a visual artist, they find inspiration in exploring archives, commemoration practices, memory, landscapes and connection to place.

Becci earned her MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design. In 2021, they were the recipient of the Public Humanities Scholar Award, given by the Rhode Island State Council for the Humanities. Becci has also been awarded the St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Visual Art, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowship in New Genres, and the RISD Museum Artist Fellowship. Their work has been shown nationally in spaces such as the Newport Art Museum, TILA Studios, Biennial of the Americas, the Photographic Museum of Humanity and Jane Lombard Gallery.

Becci lives and works in Providence where she is a member of the WARP Collective and serves on the city's Special Committee for the Review of Commemorative Works. They are also a Lecturer at Brown University where they teach Studio Foundations in the Department of Visual Art.

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