Saint Heron, Solange’s Creative Agency, Is Writing Its Next Chapter
After launching Saint Heron as a music and cultural hub, Solange Knowles is expanding the venture into an expansive platform, studio, and creative agency that seeks to preserve and amplify Black and brown voices.
Solange Knowles originally launched Saint Heron in 2013 as a music and cultural hub that preserves, collects, and uplifts stories, works, and archives that amplify Black and brown voices. It followed the release of her EP, True, when she realized that no space or outlet existed that embodied the creative nuances of her and her peers. The agency began as an imprint that debuted a compilation album honoring R&B artists, such as Kelela, Sampha, and Jhené Aiko, who were transforming Black music at the time. Seeking more personal exchanges with the community she was building, Knowles then created a traveling mobile installation from which Saint Heron sold records directly to listeners.
That experience taught Knowles that creating community exchange needs to be in-person, immersive, and multidisciplinary. “World making has always been such an important part of my practice,” Knowles told Artnet News. “When I started to center the work around what universes I wanted to leave to future ones, the thinking began to shift.”
Now, she’s expanding Saint Heron into a full-fledged cultural institution that embodies each of those pillars. The agency is embarking on this next chapter by launching a series of digital dossiers that act as “literary and visual retrospectives” of radical family and artist lineages across disciplines, spanning art, design, fashion, architecture, and literature. Each dossier will live on Saint Heron’s website for seven to ten days; the first, which is now live, shares the story of Saint Heron as told directly by Knowles herself. Upcoming dossiers will dive into the career of American artist and literary force Barbara Chase-Riboud and author Ilyasah Shabazz.
“My work as an art director and creative director is precious to me,” Knowles says. “It’s an avenue to create a force that translates identity, spirit, and dynamism through the communication through design. Over time, whether it be through album artwork or stage design or performance pieces, I’ve always tried to create visual work that encompasses expressions my other works cannot communicate, and so the next evolution is for Saint Heron to be able to extend this work through a wider scope of collaborations and projects.”
As part of Saint Heron’s expansion, Knowles also plans to establish an artist-in-residence program, a permanent art collection, and a nonprofit library. Part of these plans includes launching a ceramic studio program that preserves connections to the African-originating practice of moulding and forming vessels out of mud and clay. She’s also relaunching the agency’s gallery, called Small Matter, and hired the ascendant designer and Vidivixi founder Mark Grattan to help lead up the effort as product development consultant.
Knowles describes Saint Heron and the community she continues to build as “a living testament to the glory of expression, and how that recharges and reaffirms what we hold for our own cultural and artistic worth.”