Rita Keegan was born in 1949 in the Bronx, New York, USA, to a Dominican mother and a Canadian father. She moved to the UK in 1980, settling in London, where she co-founded the Brixton Art Gallery and became an important figure in the Black Arts Movement.
Rita works across print, photography, film, sound, textiles and installation. Her work considers the representation of Black communities historically and acts of self-fashioning in relation to the experience of Black women, often through self-portraiture.
In 1984 Rita co-founded Community CopyArt, a resource centre set up to facilitate activist workshops and produce print materials, and in 1985 she established the Women Artists of Colour Index, to catalogue, document and remember the work of Black women artists. Rita’s contributions to archival practice were explored by X Marks the Spot in the 2015 publication Human Endeavour: a creative finding aid for the Women of Colour Index .
In 2020 Rita’s archive was presented at South London Gallery, followed by a solo exhibition of her work curated by the Rita Keegan Archive Project. This show was accompanied by Mirror Reflecting Darkly, a new essay collection and archival sourcebook edited by Ego Ahaiwe-Sowinski, Matthew Harle and Rita Keegan.
Recent group exhibitions include La Trobe Art Institute, Melbourne, 2022, with talks and films in collaboration with The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, New York and British Art Network, both 2022. Rita's work is held in the Tate and Government Art Collection.
Today, Rita continues to make new work and collaborate with a younger generation of artists, archivists and writers from her Vauxhall home. She is supported in the studio by Lauren Craig, Gina Nembhard, and Naomi Pearce.
Women In Revolt! Tate Britain, opens 8 Nov 2023, curated by Linsey Young