Amoke Kubat is Still Exploring

An Artist Inhabits Her Identity
Amoke Kubat begins at the very beginning. “I always loved making art as a child,” she says.

In her formative years, after Kubat saw the Beatles movie “A Hard Day’s Night,” she was so inspired by the comedy that she wrote a version of it starring her friends. She charged schoolmates and friends 25 cents to read it. “I learned I could make money by doing a little writing,” she recalls. And thus a writer was born or an entrepreneur or, perhaps more accurately, an artist began to inhabit her identity.

Soon after her remix of “A Hard Day’s Night,” Kubat wrote the eighth-grade play for her school. Around that same time, her father worked for the producer and writer Aaron Spelling, the iconic figure behind television classics like “The Mod Squad” and “Dynasty.” Kubat was able to spend a summer around Spelling and, once she learned he was a writer, was able to read some of his scripts.

“I was interested in writing at an early age,” Kubat says, so it may seem like a career as a television writer was in her charts, but her father “was adamant that a Black woman not get involved in show business.” She explains that he opposed it as a career choice for her because “he knew the seedy side of the business.” Kubat became a teacher instead.

During her time as a school teacher, Kubat wrote ten screenplays focused on children. Those screenplays were “kind of a need and kind of a way to entertain myself,” she says. In time, her travels took her to Minnesota. Kubat originally came to the Twin Cities hoping to work for Prince. Instead, she made friends at Patrick’s Cabaret and wrote a memoir called “Missing Mama,” about her experience growing up without a mother. She also wrote a hit play, “Angry Black Woman and Well Intentioned White Girl,” which played to sold out audiences.

Around this time, Kubat started to return to a general interest in creativity. “I don’t know what genre I write,” she says. “I’m still exploring.” In addition to being a playwright, screenwriter, and memoirist, Kubat is a dollmaker, has also acted in plays, performed as a stand-up comedian, and is studying weaving as part of seminary studies she began recently. As part of her weaving, she has learned Japanese methodologies that focus on a change in consciousness and the flow of consciousness. “It’s a way of weaving that doesn’t have perfection,” she explains. “Whatever you do is okay.”

Her weaving offered wisdom that Kubat applied to her explorations as an artist. “I’m like Forrest Gump. I just kind of go along and explore my interests,” she says. “I’m still trying to figure out who I am. Even at my age, I’m still trying to figure it out.”

“As an artist, I’d like to get rid of all these labels. I don’t think of myself as a multi-disciplinary social-justice artist,” Kubat says. “I think of myself as a creator. I think we do a disservice by trying to shove ourselves into boxes.”


Amoke Kubat performing The Angry Black Woman & Well Intentioned White Girl at the 2019 Rural Arts & Culture Summit
Amoke Kubat performing The Angry Black Woman & Well Intentioned White Girl at the 2019 Rural Arts & Culture Summit. Credit Holly Diestler.


Yo Mama’s House
Some artists arrange their lives so they have time and space to make art. Other artists rearrange their lives so others have time and space to make art. Kubat is in the second group. She noticed a need on the northside. She noticed there weren’t enough places for mothers and young children to get together and have fun.

Around that time, Kubat found herself in conversation with a group of mothers who liked art, but didn’t have the time, space, or living arrangements to allow them to make art. She asked the women “if you had space for art, would you do it?” They said yes.

For a while, Kubat took supplies to meeting places and allowed others to use them. “What I learned, after dragging around art and being in different spaces, is Yo Mama needed a house,” she says.

“That’s how Yo Mama’s House started.”

Yo Mama’s House is a cooperative founded by Kubat and located in a house in North Minneapolis. She started raising money in 2019 and purchased a property in January of 2021. Yo Mama’s House is, in general, space to honor and support mothers. Today, it provides art spaces and visual arts materials to women who need space to create. There is an office hub with computer, copiers, scanners, and a fax machine. “We have a humungous massage chair,” she says. Once a week, she leads Wisdom Wednesday with Amoke. The vision for Yo Mama’s House includes an industrial kitchen, a wellness wing with a spa, sauna, and tub, and space for meditation, indoor and outdoor gardens, a beehive, a hot house, and an urban retreat space for women of color.

Speaking of her motivation to create Yo Mama’s House, Kubat says “women have cultural knowledge that is passed down from mother’s to daughters, mothers to children, mothers to community. Mothers are the pillars of the community; we’re essential workers, but we don’t get paid.”

The work is personal for Kubat in other ways. Her work as an artist returns sometimes to her experience of growing up without a mother. “Me, not having a mother, I missed a lot,” she says. “There was a litany of women who took my mother’s place. I hope Yo Mama’s House can do that too. I want it to be a space where women feel comfortable and feel safe.”

Things are going well. Artists from Yo Mama’s House have been asked to exhibit their work as far away as London, England.


Amoke at Naked Stages
Amoke at Naked Stages.


Springboard Fellowship and the Future
Kubat was selected as a 20/20 Springboard Fellow. She applied because, she says, “I’m always trying to find community. I’m always trying to get better and learn things.” 20/20 Fellows receive an unrestricted award, and Kubat has used the money to support herself and have time to contribute to Yo Mama’s House. “Springboard has been very supportive of me as an artist,” she says.

“There’s something about Minnesota,” she adds. “If you can focus your mind on what you’re trying to do, people support it.”

She’s also writing. Kubat recently read a couple of her poems at a bookstore in Minneapolis before a large outdoor audience on a hot July day. There’s a new play project in the works as well. “My next play is about women who are over 100 years old, returning to their true form, which is goddess.”

In this way, and in other ways, Kubat accesses the divine. She does this through her seminary studies, her arts practice – her weaving and dollmaking – and in the way she makes a way for others. “I’d love to be able to manifest everything I’ve envisioned about Yo Mama’s House,” she says. “I would love to see more people doing art… and people redefining what artmaking is. Not just museum pieces. Not just Warhol and Basquiat. People responding to art in a very human way.”

“I’m always delighted to see what other people are producing,” she says. “I want to offer space for people who need respite and sanctuary. I want this to be a safe creative space for women who are artists and healers and mothers. Their creativity,” she concludes not wistfully, adamantly, “their creativity is light for the world.”

The Creative Economy Fellowship, the next iteration of the 20/20 Fellowship, is now open for applications! See more and apply by September 10, 2021 –