Asia Stewart

Fabric Softener
Artistic Discipline: Interdisciplinary
Category: Brooklyn Arts Fund
Grant Year: 2022
Location: Red Hook

“Fabric Softener” is an interdisciplinary performance that combines song, movement, and painting to meditate on intergenerational trauma and the perverse inheritance(s) passed down by Black m/others. Using words of advice from her late grandmother, Asia Stewart crafted a narrative that focuses on the survival strategies she learned to navigate the world. Fabric Softener’s hour-long ritual is a cross between a blood-strewn baptism and funeral. The performance is punctuated by outbursts of spirituals and excerpts from a 1977 archival recording of Toni Morrison reading her novel, Song of Solomon. Morrison’s reading describes the special wisdom that circulates between three characters: Pilate, her daughter Reba, and granddaughter Hagar. They form a family much like the one Stewart grew up in where “women produce[d] women who produce[d] women [without] men”. Throughout the performance, Stewart’s gestures, movement, and voice become intertwined with Pilate, Reba, and Hagar’s story and enact the “litany of growing up” as a Black woman in the United States.