Lay Me Down in Praise, created by multidisciplinary artist Justen LeRoy, is a three-channel film installation that asks how the scream, moan, and melisma—also known as the vocal run— provide a sonic route toward Black environmentalism. LeRoy layers clips of Black performers with images of geological activity. Join CAAM Visual Arts Curator Essence Harden for a curatorial walkthrough of the exhibition at Art + Practice in Leimert Park.
Essence Harden is a visual arts curator and program manager at the California African American Museum and an independent arts writer. Essence has curated exhibitions at California African American Museum (CAAM), Antenna Gallery (New Orleans), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), Human Resources (Los Angeles), Oakland Museum of California, UTA Artist Space, El Segundo Museum of Art (ESMoA), Subliminal Projects, Eduardo Secci Contemporary (2022), the Orange County Museum of Art (2022), amongst others. Essence is a contributor to New York Times Magazine (2022), the Los Angeles Times Magazine: Image, SSENSE, Art21, Contemporary Art Review LA (CARLA), Artsy, LALA, Cultured Magazine, Performa Magazine, and SFAQ: International Arts and Culture and has written catalog entries for Prospect 5: Yesterday we said tomorrow; Brave New Worlds: Exploration of Space: Palm Springs Art Museum; and What Needs to Be Said: Hallie Ford Fellows Exhibition. Essence has also served as an art consultant for film and television. Essence is a 2018 recipient of The Creative Capital, Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, and a 2020 Annenberg Innovation Lab Civic Media Fellow.
Essence graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History and received their Master of Arts from the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. Essence is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in African Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley.
Essence resides in Los Angeles, CA.