fbpx ON [____]SCAPES: Let me know you made it there okay. Send a postcard? Wish You Were Here. | The Studio Museum in Harlem

ON [____]SCAPES: Let me know you made it there okay. Send a postcard? Wish You Were Here.

Daonne Huff

Amber Doe 
Feeling feelings.
Washington DC, the Sonoran Desert, NYC/TUCSON
When I internalize "landscape" —this is what I feel. My inner and outer landscape, it's an uneasy mix of artificial and natural. I am not in control anymore. 

Daonne Huff is Director of Public Programs & Community Engagement.

A note: This essay is primarily memoir and opinion-based. Some views may come across as generalizations but they are rooted in personal experience and observation. 

Another note: This piece has been heavily hyperlinked. If you see a bolded, italicized, or underlined word within a section, please click it.

Within this text, The Flow. This is an exercise in expanding entry points and access for appreciating and connecting to works of art and artists by seeing art from multiple vantage points and perspectives. An audio recording is available; let us begin. 

 

 

———

 

 

Defining the Terms of Our Journey

This starts with a return and ends with a departure. In what order that happens, for the duration of time it takes to complete, if it is ever completed, depends on the traveler. 

A blanket statement that rings true: Black folks have complicated relationships to the natural world, to the land, to the woods, to bodies of water, to open fields, to dark spaces, to small spaces, to open spaces, to closed spaces. [pause]

 

 

We have fraught inheritances. [pause]

 

 

We are not a monolith.

 

 

My relationship to and perspective on land is rooted in being a Black woman born and raised in the American South surrounded by dense green forests, black soil, red iron-rich clay, kudzu, and open fields. But I say this knowing my views are built upon the cultivation of those lands by those who came before me, the nameless ancestors present before the census started recording us and the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek peoples—the alliteration helps me remember the lessons of grade school Alabama history—who came before and alongside us. 

We need a break, a change of view, an escapade, an escape—let’s get some air.

-scape: a view or picture of a scene—usually used in combination, a noun (Merriam-Webster). Add land, city, sky, space, quiet, sound, etc. etc. etc. as is applicable for you and your viewpoint.

But for the context of this piece and more expansively for the need of this moment and so many moments before it and for so many moments still to come, I look to the -scape as a derivative of escape. So to witness, document, or manifest a _____ scape is not passive but an act(ion), a visualization of an escape from a place/space or to a place/space to arrive at a new juncture of clarity, purpose, or existence. Or as Horace Ballard so poignantly describes it: “Landscape as an act, as verb, as knowledge, is fundamentally a fashioning of self.” [1]

 

 

Angelica Calderon
The walls and its heartbeats, I hug you (2022)
The Bronx, The Bronx, The Bronx
1st fortune says: Cannot predict now.
2nd fortune says: It is certain.
3rd fortune says: Concentrate and ask again.

 

———

 

 

An Art Historical Landscape Foundation 

I began this piece during the pandemic because I missed nature and I wanted to make work that honored the primary source of relief and freedom I felt during lockdown: witnessing the landscapes to be found within Central Park and along the piers of Manhattan. And then my art history major self kicked in. What is the/my relationship to land and landscape art? What is the affinity I feel toward something that is not mine to truly possess? Landscape art is more than happy little trees. Although it is that as well. 

In certain circles, landscape art (and throughout this section, I’m speaking mostly about landscape painting and totally about United States landscapes) gets a bad rap within the hierarchies of art circles—viewed at times as low-hanging fruit, mass-produced, generic space fillers, “‘motel’ art.” But don’t we want art in all places? Having art on display in motel rooms brings art to more people and acts as a gateway, a foundation for further openness, interest, and exploration of art and artists. And motels have walls and artists need walls to share their work, whether on white gallery walls, mirrored and hair spray-stained beauty and barbershop walls or wood-paneled walls of a by-the-hour or -night rental. What if that full array of walls hadn’t been spaces of opportunity and exposure for Florida’s Highwaymen

 

Hierarchies need not apply.                                                             I digress.  

 

Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, landscape art juxtaposed two schools of thought. First, fantastical, allegorical, and bucolic landscape paintings were a means of bringing the viewer face-to-face with the sublime, humbling the mortal man by its magnitude, mystery, and magic. That narrative was complicated and expanded by landscapes as propaganda to justify global manifest destiny, conquest, and the possession of lands already inhabited. And then to further stir the pot, starting in the early twentieth century, generation upon generation of artists headed west from the north, headed south from the north, claiming, capturing, documenting desertscapes, swampscapes, Indigenous ancestralscapes. Erecting their own monuments out of concrete, rock, dirt, paint, film, metal, etc. I went out west to see some of this land, to see some of these markers for myself and leave my imprint upon them. In our current moment (2020–22) of historical and archival repair, rememory, retribution, reckoning, and recontextualization, new vantage points are being developed by those who didn’t get to write the histories the first go around, by those who recognize they need to step back to make space and by those who now acknowledge the whole story wasn’t told. As we sow again, what will this present moment, and future, reap?

 

 

———

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief Personal History to Landscapes 

When I’ve gone home to Alabama in recent years to see my parents, I’ve made an effort to drive to other parts of the state that I’d never engaged with growing up because I had no ancestral ties there. Dad is from Georgia and Mom is from Maryland so I am second generation in a place where your strength and support are defined by how deep down your roots go. When I started college in New York, classmates asked if I grew up surrounded by cotton fields. No, I said, I grew up in a city with skyscrapers, streets, and central A/C. For someone who has tended to feel like an air plant much of their life, these drives were an attempt to feel the connections, to incite the spirits to take me in as kin. I wanted to root. And these drives required going where our family road trips to Gulf Shores would not: getting off the interstates and superhighways for the two-lane, one-lane, dirt, and side roads where darkness could/is/was friend or foe depending on time, circumstance, or place. In 2018, I took a solo drive down to Hale County from Birmingham. At my departure, my older sister, Danielle, who is a Sagittarius, said, “Don’t get lynched.” Was she being dramatic? No. I consider myself a calculated risk-taker, so I traveled with the light. I continue to find myself drawn to explore places where Black folks aren’t thought to exist or shouldn’t exist. I seek to prove that we do, that we have, that we can. In 2017, I was compelled to pursue solo pilgrimages to the American Southwest. I felt as if I’d been there before, in another life. I wrote in my journal: Call Your Ancestors.

Our middle-class family vacations fell into two categories: beaches or cities south of the Mason-Dixon line. There was no family camping, hiking, or embracing “the great outdoors.” However, I was a Girl Scout in elementary school so my first exposures to “the woods” were courtesy of the moms and dads of Junior Troop 351 who would take us out to hike or while attending a couple of summers of sleepaway Girl Scout camp in the woods and caves of Alabama. I can’t really remember, but I was most likely one of three Black girls in my troop in any of these spaces. My brother would go on to become an Eagle Scout in an all-Black Boy Scout troop hosted by a local Baptist church. 

 

  • Daonne Huff: Birmingham, Alabama (my start) to Poughkeepsie, New York / London, England to New York, New York, to New Brunswick, New Jersey to Harlem, New York
  • Willie R. Huff aka Dad: Greensboro, Georgia (ancestral) to Atlanta, Georgia (his start) to Birmingham, Alabama
  • Deborah Huff aka Mom: Aquasco, Maryland (ancestral and her start) to Atlanta, Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama

 

If I think about it now, beach trips to the Gulf of Mexico provided my first exposure to horizon lines, to the sublime. As a kid, I built sandcastles in the super smooth sands, dug holes, and floated in the bathtub of warm water while my father, who started working at eleven as a paperboy and went on to work in telecommunications, urban development, radio, finance, and real estate, spent our vacations camped out in a beach chair sitting on the sand watching us, while also likely staring off into space. He grew up in Grady Homes, a public housing community developed for Black people in the 1940s in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia. He was one of five kids and the eldest son. His childhood contained no beaches or woods. It was all cityscapes, urbanscapes: concrete, basketball courts and baseball fields, playgrounds, and a large green open field in the center of the development. But his family started in Greene County, Georgia, the country, which he only visited a handful of times as a little boy.

My mom grew up on a small farm on a county road in a house her daddy purchased and renovated as a bachelor. Her mother’s large family lived mostly along one unpaved and one paved county road in an area called Dog Patch in Charles County, Maryland. Her daddy, a painter for the federal government, grew vegetables on the side—a truck garden—that he sold to government workers in Washington, DC, along with tobacco, a cash crop. She and her seven siblings played in houses made from tobacco sticks. For years now, long after my brother moved away and after careers in corporate and nonprofit spaces, my mom is one of the few Black women camping, hiking, training, and organizing in forestscapes for the Boy Scouts of America. I asked her if camping is a means of connecting back to home. A major shipping port from several centuries ago and Eagle Harbor, a small resort for Black people, were both less than a thirty-minute drive from their house but they rarely went to the river for fishing or recreation. She said she feels like being outdoors connects her to the land and water in previous lifetimes.  

I wonder sometimes if and how my relationship to place, to land, to home would be different if I could map a direct passageway on the triangular trade route, drop a pin in the Caribbean, drop an anchor on the African continent. If there was a tree I could claim and own that had been planted generations before by “us.”

We are where we come from. Embrace it reject it deny it come back around to it. But strip away the layers it’s always, still, there, here.

 

———

 

 

A Request: ON LANDSCAPES 
cc: Jonathan Adams, Emile Askey, Angelica Calderon, Amber Doe, Aaron Turner

Harlem, New York
February 12, 2022

 

Dear,

I hope since we last corresponded, you’ve borne witness to moments of bliss or stillness or rest or introspection or hope of all hopes, the sublime. Maybe you stumbled upon them or toiled to reach them or calculatingly plotted them out. Is it about the journey to or the destination there? How long does the memory stay with you?

May I offer you a prompt?
When you read landscape, what do you see? What do you feel? What do you know?

In your response, would you also send me:

  1. A postal address where I can reach you
  2. Your birthplace, your current place, the place you capture

I’ve been thinking about landscapes for a while now and I’m trying to manifest them. I can’t yet see where this will lead. 

With immense warmth and consideration,
Daonne 

———

 

 

A Freedom of Movement

 


 

Emile Askey, Black Hand, Loreauville, LA

Born in Inglewood, California. Resides in Bed-Stuy, New York. I try to capture where the love of my ancestors calls for me.

I'm bad with words. Well, maybe not bad but inadequate. My father had a stutter and while I don't, I often feel like my brain doesn't let me speak as freely as I'd like. So, I look.

I want to be reminded of a breeze blowing on my neck. The Southern heat that causes me to sweat through my clothes. I want the land to answer questions that my father can no longer answer for me. I don't want to forget.

 

So high the water was risin' our men sinkin' down
Man, the water was risin' at places all around
Boy, they's all around
It was fifty men and children come to sink and drown.”

— Charley Patton "High Water Everywhere"


 

Problem: What was lost, what was gained in the Great Exodus that led Black people from the South to the Great Plains in the late 1800s? What was lost, what was gained in the Great Migration that led Black people from the South to the Midwest and Northeast in the early- to mid-1900s that Jacob Lawrence captured step by step by step?

Hypothesis: A disconnect emerged. A break in the direct link to the ancestors.

 

Those reverse migrations every summer to the Southern relatives, to the Island relatives, to the country relatives weren’t just to give the parents a break. It was a means of maintaining the link. We don’t return because we want to, we return because we have to. And when we don’t, with time, with generations, we lose ourselves

 

Solution: Connecting you to the ancestors, please hold.

 

Ancestor Calling / Line 1:

Now, if I am right, the tremendous noise of the city, the tremendous claustrophobia of the city is designed to hide what the city really does, which is divorce us from a sense of reality and to divorce us from each other. When we are divorced from each other, we have no way back to reality, because even in this democracy people cannot live without each other—something Americans are going to have to discover again.

—James Baldwin (Harlem, New York) [3]

 

Ancestor Calling / Line 2:

This missing quality in city fiction is not privacy or diminished individual freedom, not even the absence of beauty. Nor is the quality present in stories about the country, nature, serenity, or peace, for the country holds as many terrors for the Black American writer as the city does. What is missing in city fiction and present in village fiction is the ancestor. The advising benevolent, protective, wise Black ancestor is imagined as surviving in the village but not in the city. The general hostility to the city is not the result of the disappearance of grandeur or the absence of freedom. And the idealization of the country is not a pastoral delight in things being right with God. Writer after writer after writer concedes explicitly or implicitly that the ancestor is the matrix of his yearning. The city is wholesome, loved when such an ancestor is on the scene, when neighborhood links are secure. The country is beautiful—healing because more often than not, such an ancestor is there. 

—Toni Morrison (Lorain, Ohio) [4]

 

Ancestor Calling / Line 3:

For many years, and even now, generations of black folks who migrated north to escape life in the south, returned down home in search of a spiritual nourishment, a healing, that was fundamentally connected to reaffirming one’s connection to nature, to a contemplative life where one could take time, sit on the porch, walk, fish, and catch lightning bugs. If we think of urban life as a location where black folks learned to accept a mind/body split that made it possible to abuse the body, we can better understand the growth of nihilism and despair in the black psyche. And we can know that when we talk about healing that psyche we must also speak about restoring our connection to the natural world.

—bell hooks (Hopkinsville, Kentucky) [5]

 

A return to
to remind us 
us been here 
before.

———

 

 

D-town Farm / Malik owner

Umber they were weeds
Feather cap Curling, spreading, to destroy
Overalls stretching, bowing, In the wild
Dreadlocks bending, bowing greens we were taught
Kinky, curly hair Windmill for power they were medicine
Black farmers

Clippers to groom

to heal
Divine beauty

Tents for warmth

Sankofa
Sun-kissed Smells of sweetness Generations
Of the earth Smells of spice Black Hands
Straight Boxes of bees Black bodies
From the earth Dandelion Renew
Healthful, health-filled Clover

Reclaim

 

Rows of life Milkweed Reconnect
Terracotta Plantago To the soil
Rust Yellow dock To the root.
Sienna In the city  
Ocher we were taught  

 

#Detroitblackcommunityfoodsecuritynetwork #OutdoorAfro #dtownfarm #detroit

———

 

 

A landscape Is a Landscape Is a Landscape… Is a Landscape?

Question: Can we exist within and savor the land unchained from our history of forced labor upon it? When we are no longer servants to the land, what is our relationship to it?

One View: Sometimes a landscape is just a landscape. No hidden messages, codes, cues, or symbols. Everything does not need to be intellectualized to the point that it’s turned inside out. A rejection of the creator’s intentions in favor of the researcher’s opinions or the viewer’s instinctual feelings. Can we Black folks be allowed, permitted, freed up to create, depict, conjure beautiful images and objects because we need to behold, to witness beautiful images, settings, scenes, and objects just as, if not more than, the larger population? It’s that break for a drink of ice-cold water on a sweltering day—can I be refreshed, restored, replenished for a moment before going back into the heat, into the work, into the day-to-day struggle and toil? I write this as I learn about the ongoing debate among art historians about the hidden messages within the majestic and awesome landscapes of Robert S. Duncanson, which coincided with the periods shortly before, during, and after the Civil War, alluding to the tense politics of the day including the treatment of Black and Indigenous peoples. Sound familiar?

 

Another View: There is no such thing as just “landscape.”Julie Mehretu (Addis Abada, Ethiopia) [6]

 

Let’s pull off here.

———

 

 

Rest Stops or Lookout Points or Selfie Time

 

Jonathan Adams
Blackbeans & Cornbread, 2021
Ink, black walnut ink, watercolor.
“I believe I’m ill-equipped.” The love blue makes and...history on paper.
Photo: Lena Schmid
Birthplace: Bristol, Virginia 

 

Current Place: Knoxville, Tennessee
The place I captured: The last safe place on Earth

Friends notice twang riddled words; why do some Southerners assume I’m from New York? Hola, yo soy Jonathan. Old clothes were hand-me-downs and not stews. But my ethics of cornbread are law in black iron. Grappling with history and lineage exhausts you until you question the purpose. Or meaning. I questioned myself. Who was I to be and for what? Where was I but among rolling hills, crying, seething, and always in shade. Someone reminded me to observe, see, look, and feel in my surroundings. I decided to leave my shade and find what I am without it; Hola, yo soy Jonathan.

This is a moment to pause. And a moment to capture yourself here, in this place, at this time. A marker that you were here, that you are here, that you will continue to be here. Won’t you celebrate and savor this moment with me?

Albert Artwell (Catadupa, Jamaica)
Nellie Mae Row (Fayetteville, Georgia)
Clementine Hunter (Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana)
Bob Thompson (Louisville, Kentucky)
Walter Williams (Brooklyn, New York)
Roy DeCarava (Harlem, New York)

 

July 5, 2018
Roadside Story
When I pulled over to the shoulder 
Just sky immense 
I could breathe breathe breathe
Be free be free free free
It’s worth the little money I have.
Blue &
Brown &
White white white ice ice salted over sea.
Silent but for the crunch of my feet of the wind of the low roar of passing 18 wheelers
I walked on water
Now Mama, am I saved?


 

———

 

 

The Flow

This map features the points of origins for your Flow guides, Ancestors and Advisors, the Site/Sights artists, Rest Stop Artists, as well the Pen Pals. How do you chart your journey along the map?
I believe origin points shape our notions and relationships to and of the land.

 

2020—until

I walk endless miles now. Knowing where I will end up but not knowing how and when I will arrive there. 

I am pining. I am longing for something that pushed me out and away. A birthright that never seemed mine to claim. 

I close my eyes more now. And I listen more now because seeing became disbelieving—distorted by perceptions of what I thought it should be, what I thought it was. 

Sound at least I can trust. It’s always been by association by vibration by pitch by tone. In knowing it was always complicated, I could experience it simply.

Call: Am I alone in this?

 

Response: 

Aaron Turner, Work Through Me (praying every morning), 2022 | Black Alchemy: Lost Samples & Loops

Birth Place: West Memphis, Arkansas; Current place: Fayetteville, Arkansas; Place I capture: The Arkansas Delta

Land is healing, land can be a blessing. Land has been deemed cursed. Land holds many possibilities to hope for, familiarity, pain, peace, contentment, wisdom, longevity, memory.

The idea of a landscape is powerful, especially as a place to escape to. I have much more to learn, a lot to do, and a little time to do it. Can landscape empathize? I ask myself the same questions every single day, the same whys, the same what ifs. 

The only place that I find clarity at times is music 

 

Packing List 

When you read landscape, What do you see? What do you feel? What do you know?

I want you to close your eyes now, blinds down, mind up.

Write down five descriptions (textures, sounds, smells, looks)
 

Guides 

Now, I want you to play a song by each of these composers, in whatever order you like, with the best possible sound system, speakers, or headphones available to you. 

As you listen, what kinds of spaces do these sounds visually inhabit for you?

 

ON [____]SCAPES Playlist

 

  1. Samuel Coleridge Taylor (London, England): Frances Walker, “Deep River,” Samuel Coleridge Taylor, 24 Negro Spirituals (2006)
  2. Jelly Roll Morton, (New Orleans, Louisiana): “Black Bottom Stomp” (1926)
  3. Florence Price (Little Rock, Arkansas): The Women’s Philharmonic, "Mississippi River Suite" (1934), Florence Price: The Oak, Mississippi River; Symphony No.3 (2008)
  4. Fletcher Henderson (Cuthbert, Georgia): “Moonrise on the Lowlands” (1936)
  5. Erskine Hawkins (Birmingham, Alabama): “Soft Winds” (1940)
  6. Dorothy Ashby (Detroit, Michigan): “Aeolian Groove,” The Jazz Harpist (1957)
  7. Duke Ellington (Washington, DC): “Warm Valley,” Money Jungle [with Charlie Mingus and Max Roach] (1963)
  8. Mary Lou Williams (Atlanta, Georgia): “A Fungus Amungus” (1964)
  9. Sun Ra (Outer Space ) fka Herman Blount (Birmingham, Alabama): “New Horizons,” We Travel; the Spaceways (1967)   
  10. Marion Brown (Atlanta, Georgia): “Afternoon of A Georgia Faun,” Afternoon of A Georgia Faun (1971)
  11. Julius Eastman (New York, New York): Wild Up, “Prime” (1974), Julius Eastman, Vol. 1: Femenine (2021) 
  12. Jason Moran (Houston, Texas): “The Field,” Same Mother (2004)
  13. Matana Roberts (Chicago, Illinois): “Rise,” Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres (2011) 
  14. Kamasi Washington (Los Angeles, California): “Clair de Lune,” The Epic (2015)
  15. Holland Andrews (Los Angeles, California): “Wordless,” Wordless (2021)

 

Sites / Sights 

Now, I want you to look at these works, in whatever order you like. And as you look, what kinds of sounds do these spaces embrace?

  1. Mequitta Ahjua (Grand Rapids, Michigan), World, 2009
  2. Charles Alston (Charlotte, North Carolina), Blue Landscape, c. 1960
  3. Edward Mitchell Bannister (St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada), Untitled Landscape, 1878 
  4. Robert Blackburn (Summit, New Jersey), Walk in the Shade (aka Penumbra), 1970–1974 
  5. Noah Davis (Seattle, Washington), The Gardener, 2009                            
  6. Geoffrey Holder (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago), Forest, 1989 
  7. David Huffman (Berkeley, California), Organic Systems of Dark Matter, 2003
  8. Malvin Gray Johnson (Greensboro, North Carolina), Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, 1928–29
  9. Lois Mailou Jones (Boston, Massachusetts), Untitled (Landscape, France), 1951
  10. Isaac Julien (London, United Kingdom), Omeros / Paradise, 2003 
  11. Norman Lewis (Harlem, New York), Passing Storm, 1952 
  12. Floyd Newsum (Memphis, Tennessee), Euphemia and Prince Emahn, 1985–86
  13. Xaviera Simmons (New York, New York), Landscape: Two Women, 2005 
  14. Hale Woodruff (Cairo, Illinois), Red Landscape, c. 1970. 

 

Itinerary for a Two-Week Vacation + One Recooperation Day

Now pick one guide and one site that resonated the most immediately.

A pairing.

Repeat until all guides and sites are paired.

The order of the pairings is the order of the stops on your trip. 

Redirection: Maybe you’re keen to have one or two designated guides for the full journey

 or maybe you’d prefer to experience one or two sites from the perspective of a multitude of guides. 

I tend to be overly ambitious on my solo pilgrimages. 

This is a choose your own adventure, but a little structure is always nice.

Take breaks, bring snacks, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and embrace the subli—

 

Ancestor Calling / Line 4:

For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe. 

—Audre Lorde (Harlem, New York) [7]

 

—the “erotic chaos” of the ‘scape. [8]




 

Tip: Landscape or soundscape, both are occupations of space, of a body.  How will you behold them? How will you enter them? How will you treat them?

 
Day Guide Site/Sight
1    
2    
3    
4    
5    
6    
7    
8    
9    
10    
11    
12    
13    
14    
15   Hughie Lee-Smith (Eustis, Florida), Festive Vista,1980

 

 

 

 

 

An Abbreviated List of Artists Who ‘Scape  

 
Desert

 

Tracey Moffatt   

Paula Wilson

Land - continued

 

Florida Highwaymen

Pearl Fryar

Sky/Space

 

Walter Davis

Bill Hutson

Land
Naima Green

Glenn Ligon

Benny Andrews Rashawn Griffin Alma Thomas
Dawoud Bey Allison Janae Hamilton

Tourmaline

John Bankston

Romare Bearden LaMont Hamilton
 
Water
Diedrick Brackens Al Loving John Akomfrah
Beverly Buchanan Richard Mayhew   Arthur Jafa
Selma Burke Wardell Milan Suné Woods
Paul Chan Joiri Minaya Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Sedrick Chisom Wangechi Mutu  
Ananias Léki Dago Kamau Amu Patton  

Julie Dash

Robert Duncanson

John Dunkley

Noah Purifoy

Moses Sumney

Henry Ossawa Tanner

 

 

 

 

Selected Exhibitions

Kerry James Marshall: Black Romantic, Jack Shainman Gallery (2008)

Robert S. Duncanson: An Antebellum African-American Artist, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University (2012)

American Landscapes, David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts & Culture of African Americans & The African Diaspora (2021) 

A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration, Mississippi Museum of Art (2022) and Baltimore Museum of Art (2022-2023) 

Derrick Adams: Sanctuary, Museum of Arts and Design (2018), The Momentary (2021) and The African American Museum in Philadelphia (2022)

 

———-

 

 

 

July 13, 2018

Dear Alexis, 

Part of the reason I picked Utah was to go where Black folks don’t go. To witness and experience the land that few of us touch.

And I was overwhelmed and humbled. In the majesty, in the scale & color & the power of this diverse and rich and beautiful, beautiful land. I hiked almost everyday for hours across terrains that felt otherworldly. I usually was one of the only people on the sites. So often I could feel as if the land were mine and mine alone—that I belonged here. I pushed. Pushed myself, daily. I thought of you and Outdoor Afro and the importance of Black folks witnessing vistas & horizons & this openness that leads to a real Sense of possibility, of potential. I cried many times. And every time I saw a Black child on a trail, I silently cheered them on. What beauty is all around us...we just have to pursue and seek it.


       [ END ]    

 

 

 

Bibliography and Additional Resources

  1. American Landscapes, David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts & Culture of African Americans & The African Diaspora (2021)
  2. Ed Roberson, “We Must Be Careful,” Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry ed. Camille T. Dungy (University of Georgia, 2009), pp. 3–5
  3. James Baldwin, “The Language of the Streets,” Literature & the American Urban Experience: Essays on the City and Literature eds. Michael C. Jaye and Ann Chalmers Watts (Rutgers University,1981), pp. 133–137  
  4. Toni Morrison, “City Limits, Village Values: Concepts of the Neighborhood in Black Fiction,” Literature & the American Urban Experience: Essays on the City and Literature eds. Michael C. Jaye and Ann Chalmers Watts (Rutgers University, 1981), pp. 35–43 
  5. bell hooks, “Touching the Earth,”Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery (South End Press, 1999), 135–140      
  6. Julie Mehretu: Politicized Landscapes, Art21 “Extended Play”
  7. Audre Lorde, “Uses Of The Erotic,” Sister Outsider (Crossing Press, 1984), pp. 53–59  
  8. Tiffany Lethabo King, The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies (Duke University, 2019), pp. 141–174  
 

Black Travel and Park Guides 

 

Black Geography Theory

 

Landscape Art

 

Black People’s Relationship to Nature/Land:

 

Black People’s Personal Memoirs Related to Nature/Land/Travel

 

Special Thank Yous: Mom, Dad, Danielle, Matt, Persephone Allen, Anita Bakshi, Sonia Louise Davis, Julian Gantt, LaMont Hamilton, Abbe Schriber, and M. Whiteford