In 2015, Renata Cherlise founded the Blvck Vrchives collaborative platform, which has granted Cherlise the ability to create work and unearth photographs buried in the archives of major publications and institutions. Over the last two years, Cherlise has been hired by several clients, including Ms. Lauryn Hill, to source and license content for short documentaries, live performances, and tours.
During this research, it became evident, that the process by which archivists and artists worked to document and preserve the images of Black communities, could be revamped through a collaborative model that would offer both, the original content creator, as well as the community of which the work represents, residual benefits through a rights-managed (RM) archive for purposes of research, editorial, commercial, and non-commercial usage (documentaries, essays, exhibits, academic papers, film/television, etc.). But, this is not a stock library. The narratives within these collections are those rich in visual and written languages, oral histories, traditions, culture, and style.
Ultimately, The Library by Blvck Vrchives, will provide a spectrum of research and licensing services for clients working in film/television and documentaries, but also, and most importantly, artists with smaller budgets who deserve the accessibility to utilize the content of our/their communities to study and create new works at an affordable cost.
The Library will work through two phases:
Phase I. Building the Archive, by working with artists on paid assignments to research and document Black communities across the Diaspora. This project is worldwide.
Phase II. Opening the collections within the Archive, for affordable editorial licensing, where the money earned through licensing fees are returned to the original content creator, and a percentage goes back into the community for cultural enrichment programs and public art installations. The archive will also maintain a small percentage of the fee to help sustain itself through digital (and physical) repository expenses and content management services. Some of the works within the archive will be made available for present day usage, while other works, will be stored in our time-capsule collection, and will become available to use for research and editorials in the year 2040. The appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the content is original and secured, with an advisor appointed, order of command. Basically, should anything happen to Renata Cherlise, the community archive will continue on its course with direction from the advisors.
In addition to creating new work through the archive, we are looking to acquire existing archival collections (family snapshots, photography, found images, and footage) from the year 2000 or earlier, to include with our Phase II and time-capsule releases.
I am extremely grateful for my current advisors, Danielle A. Scruggs, Russell Hamilton, and Ladi’Sasha Jones, all of whom, are on the front line with me on this project. Feel free to contact any of us to discuss partnerships, sponsorships, or educational opportunities.
A very special thanks to everyone who consulted with me prior to the official launch of this project, including Ladi’Sasha Jones, Zakkiyyah Najeebah, Reginald Eldridge, Danielle A. Scruggs, Russell Hamilton, and Miranda Mims.