Reclamation is a beautiful celebration of Black southern children as conduits of history, culture, and family connections. It is part art book, family archive, and the artists' visual examination of her southern roots reaching for her African heritage. It Includes interviews of the families discussing their family artifacts and history in the South, essays from art curators and writers, as well as in-depth discussion by the artist that focuses on the photographs' connection to art history, and cultural traditions African Americans of Georgia.
A photography book that explores the notion that perception of self, our understanding of history and belonging begins in childhood. It is my goal to instill a connection to history and tradition in the children as well as adults taking part in this project and those that view the completed book. Children need to see themselves depicted in a manner that celebrates them, their history, and heritage. Without this visibility, a subconscious sense of not belonging within a society is created within an individual.
This project focuses on African American children of metro Atlanta as historical ancestors who have traded roles. In traditional western art, people of the African diaspora were either omitted or were portrayed as objects of status and wealth for wealthy patrons who commissioned the works. They were staged alongside other objects that the commoners could never attain. They were not valued as a people but as property. This is the imagery and narrative that this project strives to address. This project reexamines that history, creating images of an alternative past, where these children’s humanity, history, and worth as a people are seen and celebrated.
Photographic images of African American children re-examine history and tradition, representing a visual elevation that had been omitted from mainstream "western history". African American families in Georgia were asked a series of guiding questions that explore their family history and their thoughts on what they consider to be family artifacts. Their family heirlooms, and all they symbolized for each family are then combined with the historical research about the lives of Africans brought to the Americas. I explore questions that stem from ethnographic and historical research of African Americans in the South. Material, spiritual, and familial culture of ancestral descents of southern slaves are entry points for me to build symbolic elements that communicate a visual language and exploration of history. The research centers on their material culture, spiritual practice, and traditions. These have all been used to create a visual language that speaks to our shared history. By centering the family heirlooms, the imagined histories and the real histories of these children's families collide to create a stunning visual narrative of our children.