I was asked to show some work at the tricentennial celebration of Natchez, Mississippi — the old river town where I grew up. I am honored and overwhelmed by the idea. I feel like the only way to “celebrate” it is to first recognize it as the site of incredible atrocities, as well as a place of natural beauty. Natchez was the setting for the decimation of the sun-worshipping native Natchez Indians, followed by a massive and brutal slave trade, and then Jim Crow-era violent oppression. Of course, as anywhere there are humans, lots of wonder and kindness and intelligence also exist. I don’t want the work to only be provocative or to lack beauty. At any rate, I’m working on a 25 foot work on paper of the river bluff of Natchez, populated by fragmented narratives, some historical, some personal, some pure reverie. These Calliope pieces are basically me getting a running start, hoping for something better than utter failure. My friend David reminded me of those old Presto Magix games where you were given a setting and rub off figures to populate it. Imagining something like that.
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