Solange’s creative agency Saint Heron launches its free archive of rare books on Black art and design

The books are delivered on a bold, interactive website and promise to expand the Black community’s access to cultural and creative resources from history’s greatest thinkers.

Date
18 October 2021

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From the world-changing literature of Audre Lorde to Langston Hughes, and the groundbreaking art of Fred Wilson and Benny Andrews, Saint Heron – the creative agency founded by Solange Knowles – today offers US-based readers a chance to gain rare insights into the minds of the greatest Black artistic and cultural thinkers.

Saint Heron’s inaugural library spans poetry, visual art, critical thought and design. The free community library aims to catalyse dialogue around the legacy of Black identity in creative and cultural production throughout history. Launched today, 18 October, the first season will run until 29 October and is available through Saint Heron’s website.

Rosa Duffy, founder of the Atlanta-based community bookstore and reading room For Keeps Books has guest-curated over 50 titles for this season. Books include a signed first edition of In Our Terribleness by Leroi Jones and a signed copy of The Meeting Point by Austin Clarke. The project is art directed by both Knowles herself and Sabla Stays.

“For this Saint Heron Library collection,” Duffy said in conversation with Shantel Pass, “it was really focusing on the people that we know and love, but we might not know the details of what they do. So highlighting these artists, I think that's really important, because then you get to the different mediums and the different spaces that we can move throughout that we might not always be affirmed that we can move through.”

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Courtesy of Saint Heron, 2021.

Duffy singles out iconic photographer Gordon Parks as a favourite from the collection, but not for the reasons we might expect; she elaborates that we often think of him as simply a photographer, but “he was writing poetry. This [book] is photography and mixed media. But he does poetry. He was doing painting towards the end of his career. So just finding all of these cool things about the people we love most who have this one-dimensional stamp on them is really, really cool.”

Not only does the new library offer an exciting look at these rare books on the history of radical Black art and design, but the website itself is a feat worthy of artistic laud. Dossier web designer Angela A. Asemota and web developer Celso White deliver a clean and striking design with a warm, earthy colour palette for Saint Heron wherein browsers can easily hover over titles to see covers of books in the library.

Knowles adds: “These works expand imaginations, and it is vital to us to make them accessible to students, and our communities for research and engagement, so that the works are integrated into our collective story and belong and grow with us.” The library is free and is based on a borrowing system by online registration. Borrowers are allowed one book per person and requests are fulfilled on a first come, first served basis.

GalleryCourtesy of Saint Heron, 2021.

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Courtesy of Saint Heron, 2021.

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia joined It’s Nice That as a news writer in July 2021 after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. She's written for various indie publications such as Azeema and Notion, and ran her own magazine and newsletter platforming marginalised creativity.

dad@itsnicethat.com

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