Monica Washington Padula
“As someone able to trace African-ancestral lineage back to the early African-American communities in the Virginias and Texas, this piece was poignant in reminding me that many African-Americans carry memories in their DNA of the overwhelming non-consensual circumstances that marked our presence on this land. To pass from our ancestral lands with our Indigenous heritages over water, with many lost to the water, and to be brought to another Indigenous land is a concept that I channeled.
“The use of traditional percussive instruments like the djembe, dewe-igan (Anishinaabe language for hand drum), and the gourd shaker (shekere), were needed. Inspiration for the passage music was heavily inspired by portions of the visual album Black is King by Beyonce’ Knowles-Carter, and a reference to the spiritual No More Auction Block is also included.
“Please take a moment to pay respect to the historical events that are represented in this musical and visual imagery.”
About the Artwork
Artist: Ulysses Marshall, American, 1946-
Medium: Acrylic and charcoal on canvas
Credit Line: Permanent Collection Fund Purchase
Object Number: 2002.36
Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts – Visit website
About the Musician
Monica Washington Padula (she/her) is a mother of five and a 2008 and 2010 graduate of Western Michigan University, where she received Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Classical Piano Performance. Since graduating college, she has maintained a piano studio (the Washington Piano Studio) and serves as music director, pianist, and organist for faith institutions, community choirs, and theater organizations in the Kalamazoo area. She is currently serving as keyboardist and organist at Portage United Church of Christ.
Monica is a multi-genre pianist, organist, and saxophonist, with a background in Black gospel music and other forms of African-American popular music.
Monica, who identifies as Afro-Native (Ojibwe), is also an activist and movement organizer mobilizing inside of the Black and Native communities. In her work, music serves as a way to illustrate resistance and resilience. With this focus, Monica specializes in arranging, composing, and collaborating with other artists and musicians to bring representation and creativity to the areas of music that she enjoys and reclaims through the exploration and featuring of Black and Indigenous American music and musicians.