May 6–October 1, 2023

E. Jane: Drenched in Light

Beyoncé. Bessie Smith. Viola Davis. Diahann Carroll. These are just a few of the icons who inform the vision of E. Jane, an artist exploring the labor and inner lives of Black women and the future of Blackness and queerness. For this exhibition, their first solo museum show, Jane presents recent works that consider the figure of the Black diva in culture past and present.

“The Black diva, like all divas, is a powerful woman in her knowledge, success, and drive,” Jane observes. Claiming the agency historically denied to Black women’s lives, the diva must also contend with constant media surveillance: a friction Jane has foregrounded in installations, videos, performances, sculptures, and sound. Building on this body of work, “Drenched in Light” invites visitors to experience the complexities of divadom by bringing together Jane’s video essay LetMEbeaWomanTM.mp4 (2020) with imagery from an intimate new zine and their Vinyl Studies series (2022), which borrows from the self-stylings of Black women musicians found on album art. Retrieving references from the long history of Black divas, and specifically channeling themes found in Zora Neale Hurston’s 1924 short story “Drenched in Light,” Jane offers an archive of the diva as a political gesture, for, as the artist reminds us, “Keeping the past is a way to ensure the future.”

About the Artist

The MFA’s latest artist-in-residence, Brooklyn-based E. Jane creates interdisciplinary work inspired by Black liberation and womanist praxis. Since 2015 they have been developing the performance persona and recording artist MHYSA, initially defined by Jane as a queer underground pop star. Author of the widely circulated NOPE manifesto (2015), Jane has exhibited their work at the Kitchen and MoMA PS1 in New York, among other institutions across the US and internationally.

  • Lizbeth and George Krupp Gallery (Gallery 264)



Supported by the Museum Council Artist in Residency Program Fund.