Constellation; 2013-16'.
Constellation; 2013-16'.

Spanning 72 inches in diameter Constellation attempts to articulate the anxiety of black boys existing in spaces of tension between points of safety and threatened destruction. The disembodied feet are placed at the vortex of a series of hive-like structures (made of joined and carved wood covered with hair; copper sheeting; cotton; red clay; paint; cloth; and wax. The forms operate multivalently suggesting domesticity and community on the one hand, and--as their conical, projectile like shape implies--potential annihilation on the other. The absent figure exists in this "oscillating space of engaged tensions", as the writer and critic Kellie Jones so eloquently articulates it. The materials tie the work to a historical narrative rooted in physical labor while the disembodied feet imply an erasure of identity.

Snip/Hive; 2017.
Snip/Hive; 2017.

Snip/Hive: graphite, resin, paper, steel chain, red clay, 2017, the dimensions are variable. Description: Snip/Hive seeks to contextualize the determination of stressed communities to maintain cohesive connections. The hive form rests on a bed of red clay implying that it has been cut from a tree branch. The object having survived the blunt force trauma of the fall, embodies unified purpose and determination. The structure is covered with renderings of ancestral family members while the bees cluster around the object forming an organic skin of protection and communal care. The insects gather reverentially around the drawings of the eldest members of the family as though paying homage to a legacy of interdependence and endurance.

Poetics of the Disembodied (installation view); MOCA GA; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied (installation view); MOCA GA; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied; 2016.
Freedoms Price; 2016.
Freedoms Price; 2016.

forged steel; resin; silkscreen on wood; stones; salvaged wood flooring; drinking fountain; spigot; segregation sign; dimensions are variable. Description: Conceived to honor the freedom riders whose non-violent protest was waged to integrate interstate busing, this sprawling installation is composed of a series of ten silk screened mugshot images of protesters arranged sequentially--each with a loaded slingshot facing them. At the heart of the installation a dividing wall separates a porcelain drinking fountain from a spigot. Above, a vintage segregation sign designates white and colored only. Clusters of stones rest on the floor beneath the photographs suggesting the blows endured to actualize a higher ideal. The work is augmented by a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King; "unearned suffering is redemptive."

Freedoms Price; 2016.
Freedoms Price; 2016.
Freedoms Price (detail); 2016.
Freedoms Price (detail); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.

silkscreen and resin on wood panel

Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.

silkscreen and resin on wood panel

Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.

silkscreen and resin on wood panel

Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.

silkscreen and resin on wood panel

Freedoms Price (performance Still); 2016.
Freedoms Price (performance Still); 2016.
Grounded; 2016.
Grounded; 2016.

36x18x144 inches. Inspired by a passage from Isabel Wilkerson's extraordinary book The Warmth of Other Suns, this mixed media work speaks to the legacy of economic disenfranchisement inherited by the descendants of enslaved African Americans. The plane personifies an aspirational impulse for transcendence, but in the context of this work it is weighed down by a burden that impedes its ascension. The oversized cotton sack is tethered to the tail section rendering the vehicle inert. The sculpture subverts the inference that the disproportionate representation of African Americans amongst the poor represents a predisposition towards poverty. The reality is quite different. In a moving section of the book Wilkerson writes: "Multiplied over generations, it (slavery and Jim Crow) would mean a wealth deficit between the races that would require a miracle windfall or a near asceticism on the part of colored families if they were to have any chance of catching up..."

Tight Packers: A Depleted Harvest; 2015-16'
Tight Packers: A Depleted Harvest; 2015-16'

49x4x122 inches. Tight Packers takes its conceptual inspiration from a 19th century term used to refer to a method for packing slaving vessels that relied on forcing as many people as possible into the hold of the ship to maximize profit at port. The practice was ill conceived however as the crowded conditions made the ships breeding grounds of pestilence and disease. I have appropriated the term here to refer to the disproportionate number of black and brown men confined in U.S. prisons. Composed of 90 sardines cans--fitted with graphite renderings of black men and inscribed with prison identification numbers--the confined spaces collapse time as they link the marginalized places black bodies were forced to dwell in the past to those in the present. The class graduation photo at the heart of the installation is augmented by the ghostly registry of the missing. The silhouettes articulate our collective sense of loss of potential--of human capital--of our most precious resource.

Tight Packers: A Depleted Harvest (detail);2016.
Tight Packers: A Depleted Harvest (detail);2016.

photo transfer and paint

Tight Packers (excerpts); 2016.
Tight Packers (excerpts); 2016.

Graphite on wood and tin

A Snare for Ezekiel Charles (detail); 2016.
A Snare for Ezekiel Charles (detail); 2016.

charcoal on wood 

Days of Future Past; 2015.
Days of Future Past; 2015.

graphite; photo transfer; on wood with steel chain

Days of Future Past collapses time by linking two iterations of the same individual, one as an enslaved person and the other as an astronaut. The mixed media drawing is augmented by a steel chain fragment that links the past to the future. The space shuttle at the center of the image is complicated by a photo transfer of an image of a slave ship.

Listeners/Witnesses of the Trade; 2016.
Listeners/Witnesses of the Trade; 2016.

resin; clam shells; sand; video footage; audio.

Listeners/Witnesses of the Trade: clam shells, resin, sand, video, audio, 2016, dimensions are variable. Description: Inspired by the Gullah Geechie communities of the Georgia sea islands, this mixed media installation is meant to honor the spirits of the millions of Africans who died in transport to the 'new world.' The clam shells are fitted with cast resin ears which are placed on a bed of sand sourced from Sapelo island, home to an enduring Gullah community that maintains a culture closely linked to West Africa. The time lapse video of the encroaching sea suggests the watery grave of the dead. The audio recording of the seashore sets a rhythmic meter as the voice of a young girl chanting an Islamic prayer can be heard over it. The work affirms the history of Islam in America as nearly one third of Africans forced into slavery were Muslims. The first slave bought to Sapelo was a man named Bilal which literally translates to 'the first to believe in the Prophet.'

Witnesses Listeners of the Trade by Masud Olufani
Root/Anchor & A Sentiment
Root/Anchor & A Sentiment
A Sentiment; 2015.
A Sentiment; 2015.

Made of forged steel, cast resin hands, charred rope and a pillow, this work attempts to contextualize the burden of bearing difficult memories. The black hands cradle the partially charred rope fragment. The torched hemp suggests a painful recollection without being specific. Does it refer to a lynching or some other memory? The pillow is a mothering apparatus which supports and comforts the grief of the living--those left to bear the weight of memory.

Root/Anchor after Gober; 2016.
Root/Anchor after Gober; 2016.

resin; woven dread locks; steel anchor

Root/Anchor after Gober references the grounding force of cultural memory. The rope--made of woven hair--speaks to the interdependence of community.  The anchor tethers the collective to ancestral memory while the cast foot implies an impulse for mobility.

Baggage; 2012.
Baggage; 2012.

trumpet; silkscreen on cloth, and suitcase.

This mixed medium work contextualizes the itinerant life of a traveling musician and the impact that lifestyle has on relationships. The open suitcase is screen printed with a letter that attempts to comfort the loved ones left behind. The suitcase becomes a mediator of competing impulses: one that necessitates the sustained mobility the life of a blues man demands; the other longing for the stability of enduring connections.

Root/Memory; 2012.
Root/Memory; 2012.

Cast bronze, and woven dread locks.  

The cast bronze house is a reproduction of a slave cabin while the woven basket form serves as a trapping device that arrests memory and preserves ancestral history.

Blocked at Five Points (performance still); presented at Lines of Influence: The Jacob Lawrence Symposium; SCAD Museum of Art; 2017.
Blocked at Five Points (performance still); presented at Lines of Influence: The Jacob Lawrence Symposium; SCAD Museum of Art; 2017.

Film; photo montage; performance

As the on-air host for the PBS documentary 37 Weeks: Sherman on the March--which chronicles Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s “march to the sea”—I was absolutely astonished to learn that the buying and selling of human beings took place at Five Points MARTA Station in Atlanta, the symbolic locale where north, south, east, and west meet, and yet there is no historical marker or public indicator of any kind to honor those unknown souls who passed from auction block to plantation at the heart of Atlanta’s public transportation corridor.  Equally troubling is that the Margaret Mitchell House, located less than two and half miles away, preserves the memory of the author of the celebrated novel Gone With the Wind which features a slave mammy as one of the central characters of the book. The juxtaposition of these two lived realities—one institutionalized and preserved; the other lost and forgotten—represents Atlanta’s inability to reconcile its present day identity with its troubled past. More specifically it is emblematic of a systematic attempt to control the historical narrative through a process of memory erasure. Blocked at Five Points aspires to arrest our predisposition to forget our past by drawing attention to slavery’s proximity to our present.

Blocked at Five Points (performance still)
Blocked at Five Points (performance still)
To Gut; 2012.
To Gut; 2012.

wood; steel; silkscreen on wood; paint; saw dust, and cross saw.

Inspired by the childhood experience of divorce, this work seeks to represent the fragility of an unstable home life and the role both parties play in its destruction.  The exterior of the wood frame house bears the haunting images of several pairs of children's eyes--witnesses of an unfolding process they are powerless to prevent.  The cross saw bisects the structure, its twin handles implying it takes two to complete the task. The line of saw dust on the ground traces the saws path.  

To Gut (detail); 2012.
To Gut (detail); 2012.

silkscreen on wood

Writers Block; 2016.
Writers Block; 2016.

pen and ink on paper; typewriters, and shelves

The Ballad of Raymond Sanders (excerpts Writers Block); 2015.
The Ballad of Raymond Sanders (excerpts Writers Block); 2015.

pen and ink on paper; typewriter, and shelf.

Ballad of Raymond Sanders (detail); 2015.
Ballad of Raymond Sanders (detail); 2015.
A Letter for Ashley (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.
A Letter for Ashley (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.

pen and ink on paper; typewriter, and shelf

A Letter for Ashley (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Ashley (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Milton (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.
A Letter for Milton (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.

pen and ink on paper; typewriter, and shelf

A Letter for Milton (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Milton (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Vivian (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.
A Letter for Vivian (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.

pen and ink on paper; typewriter, and shelf

A Letter for Vivian (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Vivian (detail); 2016.

pen and ink on paper

The Weight of Memory; 2012.
The Weight of Memory; 2012.

Forged steel; carved bass wood; radio flyer; pillow; cotton, and rust.

Inspired in part by the life story of the venerated Brazilian saint Escrava Anastacia--who was an enslaved women tortured to death by being forced to wear a steel device that prevented her from eating--this work seeks to contextualize the burden of passing difficult memories from one generation to the next. The radio flyer embodies a small child forced to bear the weight of the past and the hard and necessary lessons encoded within it.

The Weight of Memory (detail); 2012.
The Weight of Memory (detail); 2012.
To Cut; 2013.
To Cut; 2013.

Carved bass wood; woven dread locks; shears; paint, and wax.

This work combines a playful gesture with a harsh reality. The jump rope is made of woven dreadlocks referencing the familial bond. The disembodied hands, made of carved bass wood, wield the rope in a 'ready' position. The shears threaten to sever connection. The impending action heightens the tension between the child-like activity of jumping rope and the betrayal of innocence. 

 

To Cut (detail); 2012.
To Cut (detail); 2012.

woven dread locks, and shears

To Bear Witness; 2012.
To Bear Witness; 2012.

Wood;steel; resin; sugar; nutmeg; cinnamon; paint, and small bible. 

Inspired in part by the fallacious notion that children should 'be seen and not heard', this mixed media work was created to amplify the muted voice of a child. The megaphone and witness stand are scaled to the average height of a seven year old.  The disembodied feet are made of resin; cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar, echoing the popular nursery rhyme that children ' are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.'  The bright red megaphone is a declarative statement--an apparatus that serves to validate a child's perspective.  The work is augmented by a small bible placed on the arm rest of the witness stand. 

To Bear Witness; 2012.
To Bear Witness; 2012.
Processional; 2011.
Processional; 2011.

Wood; sea salt; coal; sugar;coffee; red clay; nails; cloth; cotton; rope; silk screen on cloth, and rust.

Blocked at Five Points Performance

This performative work combines film footage of the Five Points MARTA Station in downtown Atlanta edited to show the ghostly image of the Crawford Frazier Slave Auction House which once stood at the same location. The work is augmented by a single wooden block upon which the vocalist Shala Whitehead stands as she performs a medley of negro spirituals.  The work attempts to render the proximity of America's slave past to our present moment.    

For Elias and Sarah; 2011.
For Elias and Sarah; 2011.

Forged steel; wood; clothe bags; cotton; tobacco; coffee; silkscreen on fabric; dye, and rust; 72 inches high.

Based in part on the schematic renderings of slavery punishment apparatus from the 19th century, this work reinterprets the brutal nature of the steel collar transforming into into a symbol of nobility and dignity. The abstracted figures--one male, and one female--are draped in a seamless skin of cloth pouches stuffed with cotton; coffee, and tobacco.  The images of enslaved African Americans have been silk screened on the surface, and rust and dye has been used to age the fabric.  The forms echo religious figurines known as nkisi nkondi from the Kongo people of Central Africa.       

 

 

Constellation; 2013-16'.
Snip/Hive; 2017.
Poetics of the Disembodied (installation view); MOCA GA; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied; 2016.
Freedoms Price; 2016.
Freedoms Price; 2016.
Freedoms Price (detail); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.
Freedoms Price (performance Still); 2016.
Grounded; 2016.
Tight Packers: A Depleted Harvest; 2015-16'
Tight Packers: A Depleted Harvest (detail);2016.
Tight Packers (excerpts); 2016.
A Snare for Ezekiel Charles (detail); 2016.
Days of Future Past; 2015.
Listeners/Witnesses of the Trade; 2016.
Witnesses Listeners of the Trade by Masud Olufani
Root/Anchor & A Sentiment
A Sentiment; 2015.
Root/Anchor after Gober; 2016.
Baggage; 2012.
Root/Memory; 2012.
Blocked at Five Points (performance still); presented at Lines of Influence: The Jacob Lawrence Symposium; SCAD Museum of Art; 2017.
Blocked at Five Points (performance still)
To Gut; 2012.
To Gut (detail); 2012.
Writers Block; 2016.
The Ballad of Raymond Sanders (excerpts Writers Block); 2015.
Ballad of Raymond Sanders (detail); 2015.
A Letter for Ashley (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.
A Letter for Ashley (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Milton (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.
A Letter for Milton (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Vivian (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.
A Letter for Vivian (detail); 2016.
The Weight of Memory; 2012.
The Weight of Memory (detail); 2012.
To Cut; 2013.
To Cut (detail); 2012.
To Bear Witness; 2012.
To Bear Witness; 2012.
Processional; 2011.
Blocked at Five Points Performance
For Elias and Sarah; 2011.
Constellation; 2013-16'.

Spanning 72 inches in diameter Constellation attempts to articulate the anxiety of black boys existing in spaces of tension between points of safety and threatened destruction. The disembodied feet are placed at the vortex of a series of hive-like structures (made of joined and carved wood covered with hair; copper sheeting; cotton; red clay; paint; cloth; and wax. The forms operate multivalently suggesting domesticity and community on the one hand, and--as their conical, projectile like shape implies--potential annihilation on the other. The absent figure exists in this "oscillating space of engaged tensions", as the writer and critic Kellie Jones so eloquently articulates it. The materials tie the work to a historical narrative rooted in physical labor while the disembodied feet imply an erasure of identity.

Snip/Hive; 2017.

Snip/Hive: graphite, resin, paper, steel chain, red clay, 2017, the dimensions are variable. Description: Snip/Hive seeks to contextualize the determination of stressed communities to maintain cohesive connections. The hive form rests on a bed of red clay implying that it has been cut from a tree branch. The object having survived the blunt force trauma of the fall, embodies unified purpose and determination. The structure is covered with renderings of ancestral family members while the bees cluster around the object forming an organic skin of protection and communal care. The insects gather reverentially around the drawings of the eldest members of the family as though paying homage to a legacy of interdependence and endurance.

Poetics of the Disembodied (installation view); MOCA GA; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied; 2016.
Poetics of the Disembodied; 2016.
Freedoms Price; 2016.

forged steel; resin; silkscreen on wood; stones; salvaged wood flooring; drinking fountain; spigot; segregation sign; dimensions are variable. Description: Conceived to honor the freedom riders whose non-violent protest was waged to integrate interstate busing, this sprawling installation is composed of a series of ten silk screened mugshot images of protesters arranged sequentially--each with a loaded slingshot facing them. At the heart of the installation a dividing wall separates a porcelain drinking fountain from a spigot. Above, a vintage segregation sign designates white and colored only. Clusters of stones rest on the floor beneath the photographs suggesting the blows endured to actualize a higher ideal. The work is augmented by a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King; "unearned suffering is redemptive."

Freedoms Price; 2016.
Freedoms Price (detail); 2016.
Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.

silkscreen and resin on wood panel

Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.

silkscreen and resin on wood panel

Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.

silkscreen and resin on wood panel

Freedoms Price (excerpt); 2016.

silkscreen and resin on wood panel

Freedoms Price (performance Still); 2016.
Grounded; 2016.

36x18x144 inches. Inspired by a passage from Isabel Wilkerson's extraordinary book The Warmth of Other Suns, this mixed media work speaks to the legacy of economic disenfranchisement inherited by the descendants of enslaved African Americans. The plane personifies an aspirational impulse for transcendence, but in the context of this work it is weighed down by a burden that impedes its ascension. The oversized cotton sack is tethered to the tail section rendering the vehicle inert. The sculpture subverts the inference that the disproportionate representation of African Americans amongst the poor represents a predisposition towards poverty. The reality is quite different. In a moving section of the book Wilkerson writes: "Multiplied over generations, it (slavery and Jim Crow) would mean a wealth deficit between the races that would require a miracle windfall or a near asceticism on the part of colored families if they were to have any chance of catching up..."

Tight Packers: A Depleted Harvest; 2015-16'

49x4x122 inches. Tight Packers takes its conceptual inspiration from a 19th century term used to refer to a method for packing slaving vessels that relied on forcing as many people as possible into the hold of the ship to maximize profit at port. The practice was ill conceived however as the crowded conditions made the ships breeding grounds of pestilence and disease. I have appropriated the term here to refer to the disproportionate number of black and brown men confined in U.S. prisons. Composed of 90 sardines cans--fitted with graphite renderings of black men and inscribed with prison identification numbers--the confined spaces collapse time as they link the marginalized places black bodies were forced to dwell in the past to those in the present. The class graduation photo at the heart of the installation is augmented by the ghostly registry of the missing. The silhouettes articulate our collective sense of loss of potential--of human capital--of our most precious resource.

Tight Packers: A Depleted Harvest (detail);2016.

photo transfer and paint

Tight Packers (excerpts); 2016.

Graphite on wood and tin

A Snare for Ezekiel Charles (detail); 2016.

charcoal on wood 

Days of Future Past; 2015.

graphite; photo transfer; on wood with steel chain

Days of Future Past collapses time by linking two iterations of the same individual, one as an enslaved person and the other as an astronaut. The mixed media drawing is augmented by a steel chain fragment that links the past to the future. The space shuttle at the center of the image is complicated by a photo transfer of an image of a slave ship.

Listeners/Witnesses of the Trade; 2016.

resin; clam shells; sand; video footage; audio.

Listeners/Witnesses of the Trade: clam shells, resin, sand, video, audio, 2016, dimensions are variable. Description: Inspired by the Gullah Geechie communities of the Georgia sea islands, this mixed media installation is meant to honor the spirits of the millions of Africans who died in transport to the 'new world.' The clam shells are fitted with cast resin ears which are placed on a bed of sand sourced from Sapelo island, home to an enduring Gullah community that maintains a culture closely linked to West Africa. The time lapse video of the encroaching sea suggests the watery grave of the dead. The audio recording of the seashore sets a rhythmic meter as the voice of a young girl chanting an Islamic prayer can be heard over it. The work affirms the history of Islam in America as nearly one third of Africans forced into slavery were Muslims. The first slave bought to Sapelo was a man named Bilal which literally translates to 'the first to believe in the Prophet.'

Witnesses Listeners of the Trade by Masud Olufani
Root/Anchor & A Sentiment
A Sentiment; 2015.

Made of forged steel, cast resin hands, charred rope and a pillow, this work attempts to contextualize the burden of bearing difficult memories. The black hands cradle the partially charred rope fragment. The torched hemp suggests a painful recollection without being specific. Does it refer to a lynching or some other memory? The pillow is a mothering apparatus which supports and comforts the grief of the living--those left to bear the weight of memory.

Root/Anchor after Gober; 2016.

resin; woven dread locks; steel anchor

Root/Anchor after Gober references the grounding force of cultural memory. The rope--made of woven hair--speaks to the interdependence of community.  The anchor tethers the collective to ancestral memory while the cast foot implies an impulse for mobility.

Baggage; 2012.

trumpet; silkscreen on cloth, and suitcase.

This mixed medium work contextualizes the itinerant life of a traveling musician and the impact that lifestyle has on relationships. The open suitcase is screen printed with a letter that attempts to comfort the loved ones left behind. The suitcase becomes a mediator of competing impulses: one that necessitates the sustained mobility the life of a blues man demands; the other longing for the stability of enduring connections.

Root/Memory; 2012.

Cast bronze, and woven dread locks.  

The cast bronze house is a reproduction of a slave cabin while the woven basket form serves as a trapping device that arrests memory and preserves ancestral history.

Blocked at Five Points (performance still); presented at Lines of Influence: The Jacob Lawrence Symposium; SCAD Museum of Art; 2017.

Film; photo montage; performance

As the on-air host for the PBS documentary 37 Weeks: Sherman on the March--which chronicles Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s “march to the sea”—I was absolutely astonished to learn that the buying and selling of human beings took place at Five Points MARTA Station in Atlanta, the symbolic locale where north, south, east, and west meet, and yet there is no historical marker or public indicator of any kind to honor those unknown souls who passed from auction block to plantation at the heart of Atlanta’s public transportation corridor.  Equally troubling is that the Margaret Mitchell House, located less than two and half miles away, preserves the memory of the author of the celebrated novel Gone With the Wind which features a slave mammy as one of the central characters of the book. The juxtaposition of these two lived realities—one institutionalized and preserved; the other lost and forgotten—represents Atlanta’s inability to reconcile its present day identity with its troubled past. More specifically it is emblematic of a systematic attempt to control the historical narrative through a process of memory erasure. Blocked at Five Points aspires to arrest our predisposition to forget our past by drawing attention to slavery’s proximity to our present.

Blocked at Five Points (performance still)
To Gut; 2012.

wood; steel; silkscreen on wood; paint; saw dust, and cross saw.

Inspired by the childhood experience of divorce, this work seeks to represent the fragility of an unstable home life and the role both parties play in its destruction.  The exterior of the wood frame house bears the haunting images of several pairs of children's eyes--witnesses of an unfolding process they are powerless to prevent.  The cross saw bisects the structure, its twin handles implying it takes two to complete the task. The line of saw dust on the ground traces the saws path.  

To Gut (detail); 2012.

silkscreen on wood

Writers Block; 2016.

pen and ink on paper; typewriters, and shelves

The Ballad of Raymond Sanders (excerpts Writers Block); 2015.

pen and ink on paper; typewriter, and shelf.

Ballad of Raymond Sanders (detail); 2015.
A Letter for Ashley (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.

pen and ink on paper; typewriter, and shelf

A Letter for Ashley (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Milton (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.

pen and ink on paper; typewriter, and shelf

A Letter for Milton (detail); 2016.
A Letter for Vivian (Writers Block excerpt); 2016.

pen and ink on paper; typewriter, and shelf

A Letter for Vivian (detail); 2016.

pen and ink on paper

The Weight of Memory; 2012.

Forged steel; carved bass wood; radio flyer; pillow; cotton, and rust.

Inspired in part by the life story of the venerated Brazilian saint Escrava Anastacia--who was an enslaved women tortured to death by being forced to wear a steel device that prevented her from eating--this work seeks to contextualize the burden of passing difficult memories from one generation to the next. The radio flyer embodies a small child forced to bear the weight of the past and the hard and necessary lessons encoded within it.

The Weight of Memory (detail); 2012.
To Cut; 2013.

Carved bass wood; woven dread locks; shears; paint, and wax.

This work combines a playful gesture with a harsh reality. The jump rope is made of woven dreadlocks referencing the familial bond. The disembodied hands, made of carved bass wood, wield the rope in a 'ready' position. The shears threaten to sever connection. The impending action heightens the tension between the child-like activity of jumping rope and the betrayal of innocence. 

 

To Cut (detail); 2012.

woven dread locks, and shears

To Bear Witness; 2012.

Wood;steel; resin; sugar; nutmeg; cinnamon; paint, and small bible. 

Inspired in part by the fallacious notion that children should 'be seen and not heard', this mixed media work was created to amplify the muted voice of a child. The megaphone and witness stand are scaled to the average height of a seven year old.  The disembodied feet are made of resin; cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar, echoing the popular nursery rhyme that children ' are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.'  The bright red megaphone is a declarative statement--an apparatus that serves to validate a child's perspective.  The work is augmented by a small bible placed on the arm rest of the witness stand. 

To Bear Witness; 2012.
Processional; 2011.

Wood; sea salt; coal; sugar;coffee; red clay; nails; cloth; cotton; rope; silk screen on cloth, and rust.

Blocked at Five Points Performance

This performative work combines film footage of the Five Points MARTA Station in downtown Atlanta edited to show the ghostly image of the Crawford Frazier Slave Auction House which once stood at the same location. The work is augmented by a single wooden block upon which the vocalist Shala Whitehead stands as she performs a medley of negro spirituals.  The work attempts to render the proximity of America's slave past to our present moment.    

For Elias and Sarah; 2011.

Forged steel; wood; clothe bags; cotton; tobacco; coffee; silkscreen on fabric; dye, and rust; 72 inches high.

Based in part on the schematic renderings of slavery punishment apparatus from the 19th century, this work reinterprets the brutal nature of the steel collar transforming into into a symbol of nobility and dignity. The abstracted figures--one male, and one female--are draped in a seamless skin of cloth pouches stuffed with cotton; coffee, and tobacco.  The images of enslaved African Americans have been silk screened on the surface, and rust and dye has been used to age the fabric.  The forms echo religious figurines known as nkisi nkondi from the Kongo people of Central Africa.       

 

 

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