Women of Legacy

Project 4: Art Installation - Heritage & Memories

There are some items I hold dear to my heart and cherish that once belonged to my Mother, both my maternal & paternal Grandmothers and Great-Grandmother so this project is quite special to me and required me to dig deep into my emotions. Most days I remember the strong women in my family (now my guardian angels) fondly yet there are a some days when my heart longs for them and I find it hard to keep myself from shedding a few tears. While I know they each live forever in my heart and their energy is ever present, I am human and I miss their soft touch just the same. 

(l to r) Geneva Reid Stokes (Paternal Grandmother),  ME, Lizzie Lee Reid (Paternal Great-Grandmother)                               *Photo Courtesy: T. Strong, Personal Collection - Not for Distribution*

These days, as I become deeper and deeper immersed into my creative artworks, I find myself thinking of the strong women in my family, the lives they led and the moments we shared together. There is no doubt that my ancestors are and continue to be a major influence and one of my many inspirations. It is as if they are my cheerleaders, pushing me to be the greatest I can be. And maybe, just maybe, some of my gifts were originally their blessings that have been passed down to me! I Am positive that they all had talents they were never allowed or given the opportunity to fully explore because of the time in which they lived or the challenges they faced as black women in the 1900's, 1920's, 40's and beyond. However, since I Am their legacy and intendant upon leaving a legacy for my legacy, I humbly accept all of those blessings and I Am determined to put them each to use.

Martha Cole Blackwell (Maternal Grandmother) *Photo Courtesy: T. Strong, Personal Collection - Not for Distribution*

Creating an art installation that shares a personal story, under the direction of Kamal Badhey, was a great exercise and the perfect way to communicate and honor my personal history and past, through written reflection, 3D arrangement, subsequent photography and painting.

This is the outcome:

umama Lizzie flies like the butterfly; before she took her final breath, she came to say goodbye - in my dream, a beautiful dream, so real it seemed; my first best friend, my nana, my bright light beam.

mzazi Geneva so fearless and kind; "ear-bobs" clipped to her ear, she's always dressed to the nines - I remember her socks, mama labeled with care; while even in assisted living, she remained debonaire.  

oni Martha once loved to wear her white robe; she lived life by her own rules, she laughed and danced solo - adored by everyone whose path she crossed; this Sister lifted the down trodden and cared for the lost.

mama Carrie will always be the one most special to me; my vessel, my example, my guide to living free - a golden locket, diamond necklace intertwined with wedding bands; an alligator pin, for Sunday lapels affixed lovingly with her own hands. 

Carrie's Girl is who I Am; in the lineage of this family love - passing wisdom to our baby girl; with strength, Reign down from above.

(umama =Mother, Zulu | mzazi =Mother, Cameroon | oni =Mother, Ghana | mama - Mother Swahili)

"Many Mothers" , an Art Installation

"the gift lies between the lines" - inspired by the Ancestors, acrylic painting & acrylic marker 


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