The Invisible Flock, 2021
A site specific and collaborative project with visual artist Zipporah Camille Thompson. Historic Oakland Cemetery May 21, 2021- May 31, 2021
We were immediately drawn to the African American burial ground restoration and to all the seemingly lost identities, histories, stories, and voices that have gone without documentation and proper resting sites. With this project, we hope to honor each individual and to recognize the importance of historical African American burial traditions.
Pulling from previous materials and themes we have each used in our own bodies of work, we have created a flock of birds. Our flock incorporates contrasting types of wood veneers to create symbolic patterns and designs used in African American freedom quilting as well as symbolic leaves and plants. Each bird carries a vessel made from various traditional African American burial materials. In their beaks, the birds carry a symbolic flower or leaf (handmade from flagging tape) in recognition of the technologically advanced survey recovery process of 872 unmarked burials. By creating with some of the same makeshift materials often used in traditional African American burial markers and by incorporating the method used to discover and restore some of the original graves and identities, we bring the story up to the present day. Our birds act as messengers, carrying names and stories between earth and the spiritual realm, bringing those once forgotten and invisible from below the surface to above ground and into the air.