My work is about connections. I was born in Rembert, South Carolina in a small wooden house on a dusty red clay road located not far from where my parents spent their childhood and grew up. The earliest known member of my father’s family has been traced to the census of 1870. It was the first census to count Black Americans by name and not as slaves and he was 30 years old at that time. He was an emancipated slave, now set free. I am irrevocably tied to this man.
It may sound strange to hear me say that I am proud and honored to have had slaves in my family. My work is a reflection of the tenacity and steadfast determination of my ancestors and of their enduring hope. These are my assumptions about my ancestors, assumptions drawn from countless examples that I have witnessed in their descendants, my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. My work is derived from a lifetime of interaction with these people. I have seen their determination, their spirit that sometimes roared like an inferno and at other times burned with just a tiny flicker of a flame that would not be put out. The knowledge that this heritage is mine permeates my work. I bring honor to my ancestors when I bring honor to my work.
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