Night was really exciting! Lots of people were out despite the chilly
cold wet weather. As I drove across the bridge I could barely see. At
one point there was a flash of lightning.
put the blue table cloth on the table along with the catalog for the
show, business cards and the art caddy. It was great talking to everyone
about their place of birth and their ancestry.
The exhibit is entitled: Movement Trails Within and Beyond Diaspora: A Global South Tale. In it we trace our movement from home to other places. Some people left the land of their birth fleeing death, while others were sold or kidnapped from home, never to return until generations later.
The thread represents
people's mapping their journeys. I had them start with their place of birth and
then locate their ancestors. We had 100 pins, at the end of the reception, 99
were used. There were stories left in the basket that spoke of genocide and
refuge, confusion over where the person belonged. One woman said she was
adopted by a woman from Manila and she was born in Los Angeles.
One man was from Antigua,
with ancestors in England and relatives in Ghana. His wife was born in Hawaii.
One little boy was born in Berkeley, but claimed Oakland. His mother told him
to choose a country from Africa for his ancestors.
A woman joined us from Kenya,
who lives in California now. People traced their ancestry from New Orleans and North Carolina, to Jamaica. We had quite a few people from the East Coast, Buffalo, New York, Boston. I don't think anyone was from Florida. One person was from Cuba. Two from the Philippines, one from Iraq, another from Turkey and another from another place near Iraq (these folks didn't feel like writing so I am trying to recall this from memory.)
We had people with ancestry in France . . . polyglot European mixes, Amsterdam, Italy, England, Spain.
Because the map was abstract,
many people didn't see the map until they stepped back and looked more
carefully at the work. I had a more traditional map in the binder on the table
so that people could orientate themselves, but geographic accuracy was not the
goal. Wherever the person felt they belonged, even if the borders or lines were
not geographically correct it was okay. We ran out of space along the CA coast
so some people had to be in the Pacific Ocean. One woman said she had had a
dream about this.
So many people said they were happy the installation was in
this show. We had people in line because only one person could map their
journey at a time.
One woman was Chinese and
European. Another was European and Mexican, but with green eyes and pale skin,
red hair when not dyed black, she said she was seen as an imposter by other
Mexicans, especially when she spoke Spanish. She knew about post-traumatic
slave syndrome and the Maafa. Not many people recognized the photos from the
Several friends told me they
wanted to read my research written on place for my Ecopsychology
class at Pacific Graduate Institute. Another woman and I (an artist in the show, who painting said
"home," had a long conversation about African identity in the
Diaspora and blackness. The two are not synonymous. She said she felt more
comfortable calling herself black, rather than African.
Everyone I spoke to agreed
that black people's humanity's survival was because of our spiritual
grounding--those African gods who jumped on ships with us, kept us sane and
I am looking forward to
seeing what other people write and where the lines are drawn while I am away
|All photos taken at the Artists Reception|
Photo credit: TaSin Sabir