is an artist/scholar/facilitator, and Professor Emerita of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Omi is dedicated to innovating new artistic and scholarly strategies for stimulating healthy communities toward Freedom and Joy.
“It is important that we push beyond the established political and intellectual approaches to the world’s most intractable problems, and move toward possibilities that have been given less opportunity to support substantive transformation. These possibilities include the structures of theatrical jazz—improvisation, ensemble building, virtuosity as courage, truth telling, and Joy.”
Omi brought this focus to her work as Artist-in-Residence with
She has developed art as social change workshops for a range of organizations including:
As a performing artist, her original works include:
Omi has been a company facilitator with
Omi’s scholarship focuses on performance ethnography, theatrical jazz, Yoruba-based aesthetics, Black Feminisms, and activist theatre. Her scholarship appears in several publications including The Drama Review, Theatre Journal, Obsidian, solo/black/woman (eds. E. Patrick Johnson and Ramón Rivera Servera), and Tarell Alvin McCraney: Theatre, Performance, and Collaboration (eds. Sharrell Luckett, David Roman, Isaiah Wooden).
Omi is a co-editor with Lisa L. Moore and Sharon Bridgforth of Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project (University of Texas Press, 2010), and author of a collaborative ethnography, Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Àṣẹ, and the Power of the Present Moment (Ohio State University Press, 2015) that documents the development of jazz-inflected performance.
During her 28-year tenure at UT/Austin, Omi established the Performing Blackness Series (now named in her honor), curated The ÌSÈSÈ Gallery, and began a Yoruba Studies Program. Omi is currently completing a collection of performance short stories— Sittin’ in a Saucer — about a 9-year-old Black girl growing up in the suburbs of Chicago in the late 1950s. As an advancement toward Black Freedom, Omi has launched The Diaspora Project—a movement to expose internalized anti-Blackness and promote healing transnational Black relationships through artmaking.
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