What totem, what symbol, what spirit of grace might show up at the table today?
Another provocative and well-timed prompt by Acey at the midpoint of Collage Month.*
I was flummoxed — which seemed like a version of an old script that says, ‘I have no support, no bolstering grace.’ The potential (provable) fallacy of such a view kicked up a healthy skepticism. I went off and cleaned the upstairs.
Autocorrect changed the parenthetical word above from “probable” to “provable.” The substituted sense is stronger and I will be collecting proofs of bolstering grace going forward.
Later, shifting papers around, it came to me that my totem had already shown up. Repeatedly.
It’s that silhouette. He is part ghost, part Jedi Master, part Arab (as signifier of the larger world). He looks backwards but moves forward. He shows up anywhere and everywhere. He is witness but also, IN and OF every landscape.
The figure holds mystery. How do I even know their gender?
I consciously put strips of paper in a couple of these compositions that reference language and textiles, two areas of pursuit in my life that might be considered redemptive.
The messier assemblage below points to issues of American history and racism, since those things often arise when making collages as well.
The boat etching could have come straight out of The 1619 Project: a scene of bodies being moved to a colony as chattel. Or perhaps these paddlers are already on some planter’s inventory and move merchandise from ship to shore. The gold paper scraps represent the vast sums of wealth generated on the backs of black bodies. The big bones overhanging — weighty, limiting, obscuring of the sky — represent structural racism. Lasting, like bones. Hidden, like bones. The tri-part composition seems to graphically reference the “wealth gap.”
Finally, I also came upon the photo below — an arrangement of pieced/loose sections laid out while studying the Middle Passage. The pieces never got assembled, making the picture the only incarnation of that particular thought.
For info on this collage project see Acey’s blog
For more SoulCollage cards of mine, go to Flickr on sidebar and open the SoulCollage album. Or, track the ‘SoulCollage’ and ‘collage’ tags here on the blog.
The ‘slavery’ tag will take you to several years of thoughts about both history and my relationship to it.
Also: The New York Times published The 1619 Project, but I didn’t link to them because of their firewall. If you subscribe, go there first. The NYTimes podcast The Daily, put out several Saturday episodes expanding on the topic which were moving and informative.
Originator of the project: Nikole Hannah-Jones @nhannahjones (on Instagram). There’s also a hashtag: #1619project.