Elegy For The Yard That Once Smelled of Ghosts

"There is a small joy in those of us who traveled out of history not having a name, and that joy is that we may always see ourselves in ourselves, share the one name that means taking the course threads of fear and spinning them into silver for our hair. That small joy of sharing a name that means we have crossed all oceans with less but have done it gracefully, we have passed over all mountains and know the wolf better than the wolf knows itself, we have overlooked barren dust and decided to dig the rivers ourselves and we did it as indelibly as a glacier once did."  – Jessica Lanay, "Trial of the Caryatids"

While studying at Chatham University, I encountered Akan funerary heads made from terracotta. The more I researched these works, the more I realized the omnipresence of terracotta: plant pots in the garden my father cultivated and the Spanish-style red tile roof of the house I grew up in. It is a familiar material yet a new encounter for me, as it was the first belonging that I had to present in a museology course, mostly comprised of white students. For me, studying this work brought great fascination and bewilderment. In "Looking for Zora" by Alice Walker, she charts her journey in search of the unmarked grave of the great African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston in Eatonville, FL. These funerary heads upended that story and began with a fragment of the deceased, but I had no idea who I was looking for or exactly where it originated from. I just knew they must be important because the head symbolically represents the seat of dreams and the epicenter of thought and creativity.