October 29, 2021

Solange unveils free library of rare works by Black artists and writers


Solange performing at Coachella in 2014. (Neon Tommy, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Singer-songwriter, performance artist and actress Solange announced last week—via her Saint Heron foundation—that she would use the organisation’s site to host a free digital library of rare works by Black writers and artists.

As reported in the NME and elsewhere, The Saint Heron Community Library includes “stories and works we deem valuable,” which are available to rent for 45 days at a time on a first-come, first-served basis. A statement on their website lays out the mission, describing the SHCL as:

…a growing media center dedicated to students, practicing artists and designers, musicians and general literature enthusiasts. We believe our community is deserving of access to the stylistically expansive range of Black and Brown voices in poetry, visual art, critical thought and design.

The library is helmed by a rotating list of curators, each of whom will add their own entries. The first wave of works has been selected by Rosa Duffy of the Community Bookstore, Atlanta, GA, and includes poetry by Audre Lorde, science fiction by Octavia Butler, and short stories by Nadine Gordimer, among more esoteric selections such as Madam Zenobia’s Space Age Lucky Eleven Dream and Astrology Book.

The SHCL signals the next stage of Saint Heron’s expansion. Back in May, Solange announced that the collective would be broadening beyond its original usage of providing a digital hub for conversations which “preserve, collect, and uplift stories, works, and archives that amplify Black and brown voices,” to hosting temporary digital exhibitions, as well as establishing a physical gallery and studio space, Small Matter, which hosts a permanent collection.

Of the SHCL collection, Solange herself said:

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… I look forward to the Saint Heron library continuously growing and evolving and over the next decade becoming a sacred space for literature and expressions for years to come.

Head over to the Saint Heron Community Library to see a full list of available works, as well as more info and full terms.



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.