Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives
Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives honors recently discovered unmarked graves in the African American Grounds of Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. The multimedia installation will feature the replica of a Praise House, a small wooden structure where enslaved people gathered to worship on plantations, and a digital projection of the Ring Shout, a traditional African-American worship and gathering practice whose origins in West African ritual and ceremony predate slavery. The project will also feature performances that celebrate the Ring Shout showing evidence of its survival in contemporary dance as testament to the resilience of a people.
The project coincides with the Historic Oakland Foundation completing restoration of the African American Grounds and the cemetery’s 2020 Juneteenth celebration.
About the Ring Shout
From its roots in West Africa, the Ring Shout was reborn during enslavement in the West in resistance to laws which prohibited those enslaved from gathering, except for worship, and forbid any form of cultural expression not in service to the enslavers, including drumming. These laws were imposed in an effort to systematically dismantle communication, and ultimately community. In response, those enslaved created Praise Houses—small usually wooden structures (barns or shacks) used for worship throughout the Southeast. As an act of resistance, congregants would gather in circle to stomp or shout (full body rhythmic movement) upon the wooden floors, ultimately creating a communal drum—secretly preserving their cultural rituals and collective prayers and traditions. These small hidden worship spaces were the first Black churches in the Western world.
About the Artist
Charmaine Minniefield seeks to preserve Black narratives by creating public art in communities affected by gentrification and erasure. She has completed numerous community murals, and she was recently commissioned by the City of Atlanta to create murals honoring the unsung heroines of the Civil Rights Movement. Recent work also includes projection mapping and site-specific installations. With a degree in Fine Art from Agnes Scott College, Minniefield has served the Atlanta area as an arts administrator for nearly 20 years, holding positions with the National Black Arts Festival, the High Museum of Art, and the Fulton County Department of Art and Culture, and producing projects around art and activism with such organizations as Alternate ROOTS, Points of Light, and Flux Projects. She recently served as faculty for the Department of Art and Visual Cultural at Spelman College and currently serves as faculty for Freedom University, an underground university for undocumented students.
Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur / Corinne & Jeff Adams / Agnes Francis Adolphine / Chris Appleton / Candace Banks / Allie Bashuk / Stephen Michael Brown / Erin Clark / Anne Archer Dennington / Nicky Cohen & Simon Dibley / Emily Cook / Kwakiutl L. Dreher / Amy Durrell / Audrey Gámez / glo ATL / Helena Harrison / Jessica Helfrecht / Jessyca Holland / Renata Irving / Jane Jackson / Leslie & Rob Joseph / Rebekka Kuntschik & Yong Pak / Mary Swan Lamar / Mike Landman / Joseph Lefter / Ellen Mathys / Birgit & David McQueen / Amy Miller / Marni & Julian Mohr, Jr. / Opal Moore / Jennifer Morrison / Kelly Nelson / Kathryn Newman / Ryan Oliver / Bonnie O’Neill / Sharon Parham / Alicia Perry / Margaret Reiser / Ann Rowles / Glen Sarvady / David Schuster / Doug Shipman / Pam Sugarman & Tom Rosenberg / April VanMansfeld / Kim Wachtel / Lauren Welsh / Alyson West / Keith Yates
Major support for this project comes from National Black Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.