My installation is inspired by the history of a contraband camp at the Devil’s Punchbowl in Natchez, Mississippi during the Civil War. Free slaves crossing into Union soldiers’ territory were re-captured and made property of war. The recaptured slaves were worked to death and buried wherever they dropped dead. Today, the site is heavily covered with foliage, trees, and wild peaches from the fertilized soil of my ancestors’ bodies.
I immortalized my people through hand-stitched eclectic spirit dolls interacting with tree branches, artificial vines, and found objects to signify a rootwork / conjure aesthetic of protection and gratitude for my ancestors. Alchemy symbols for the Sun, Moon, and Earth dance on the wooden shelves to the left. This installation sends blessings to the physical fruits and endows special gifts to whomever eats directly from those trees. A small broom, from my personal collection, activates conjure, which is commonly integrated in the domestic chores of indentured slaves. A wooden figurine of fruit basket also rests on this shelf pointing back to the sacred function of mother nature in all conjure rituals.
Continue to seek knowledge and question the fabric binding us all into one nation.
The featured playlist below was curated by an underground visual artist and music producer, Great Scott, for audiences to listen to while observing the details of this installation in person.