The Boyne City Project
body memory, Black placekeeping, migration, diaspora, and lineage
The Boyne City Project (TBCP)1 is one of the research projects that organizes and grounds my creative practice through the creation of clay objects and writing. It is an exploration of personal, family, and Black histories moving through those that are known, to those imagined or known but changed in the rupture of the transatlantic breach (Hartman2). It tracks from an unknown location on the continent of Africa to Nouth Carolina, Washington D.C., and Tennesse where we were enslaved to the homestead in Boyne City, MI to the South side of Flint and the West side of Detroit, to East Lansing, to Ypsilanti, and wherever I and therefore my family will go in the future. TBCP is about expanding and complicating Black Midwestern histories, American history, and understandings of Black autonomy.
My family has lived in Michigan since before The Great Migration. This land holds the memory of every place we’ve ever lived. The geography of Michigan and those places lives within my body (McKittrick3, M. NourbeSe Philip4). And epigenetics tells us our environment impacts how our bodies read and act on our DNA. Clay is a material with its own mind, memory, and in vessel form—inside and outside. It remembers what it experiences just like I carry with me everywhere my ancestors lived and everything they experienced.
TBCP is about finding and developing ways to keep, remember, and hold this place where my family and I are from. It is a study and practice in creating ocular proof (Gunning5) a personal account of what we have seen and experienced—how we acted on this place, how it acted on us, and to what ends.
I’m excited to share more as the project progresses.
For now, you can head to my revamped website to view work that’s representative of histories imagined and changed in the rupture.
Now that I’ve finished some clay work and as I begin to transition into my spring/summer residency season, I plan to be a lot more active in this space. It would mean the world if you’d support my creative practice by pledging your support to this newsletter.
Happy Black History/Futures Month. I’m grateful every day to be a Black woman.
Pardlo, G. (2016). Colored people's time. Callaloo, 39(2), 361-371
Hartman, S. (2008). Lose your mother: A journey along the Atlantic slave route. Macmillan.
McKittrick, K. (2006). Demonic grounds: Black women and the cartographies of struggle. U of Minnesota Press.
Philip, M. N. (1994). Dis Place: The Space Between. Feminist Measures, 287-316.
Gunning, S. (2021). Moving home: gender, place, and travel writing in the early Black Atlantic. Duke University Press.