Friday, January 21, 2011

PORTIA COBB HEYWARD on her digital prints in tonight's exhibit at Peltz Gallery

My Gullah Land digital prints in tonight's show at the Peltz Gallery in Milwaukee are two portraits of images found on heirs' property in shrinking Gullah/Geechee rural spaces within low country South Carolina. Must see.

PORTIA COBB HEYWARD
is an Associate Professor of Film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her most recent project was DAYCLEAN, an installation exhibit that honored the legacy of DENMARK VESEY, a free Black man who, with 36 others, were executed by hanging after being charged with planning an insurrection against the White slave owners in Charleston, SC. Her digital prints will be on display tonight at the Peltz Gallery (1119 E. Knapp St.) as part of the VISIONS, VOICES, VIEWPOINTS, and VICTORIES exhibit.

More on the installation DAYCLEAN: http://chronologyportia.blogspot.com/2009/10/dayclean-exhibit-honoring-memory-of.html

More on Portia Cobb Heyward: http://www.myspace.com/portia_cobbfilmmaker

1 comment:

  1. I spent 15 months in low country South Carolina (Charleston county and Dorchester counties) between 2009 and 2010, while on a sabbatical. While immersed in cultural activities and Gullah Geechee community, I began to document events and places. I began to spend a great deal of time in a community where my mother was born, on an island some still call Yonges Island. Our family has legacy or "heirs" property there. This means it legally belongs to all the family members as it was never separated or re-deeded to distribute to separate out the acres or plats within the family. I initially intended to tell the story of heirs property families in that community-located remotely off of the Savannah HWY along a road titled Toogoodoo. This is where my family and families that they've lived around since the 1870's own land. My grandfather build one of the first modern houses with an indoor bathroom in 1954. As a child, my brother and I and host of first cousins spent time there over our winters and summers when sent there from New York (my birthplace). Some were actually raised by my grandparents there. What appears in the series of digital photographs I shot while there is the house and the landscape surrounding it. I selected two images for this show and consulted with a local professional photographer, Tom Bamberger, to print them retaining most if not all of its visual information and quality. Two separate point of views/ images of my grandfather's house, which is now a leaning structure on that landscape were selected. The images hold sentimental value for me, but much more they depict the story of a Gullah community and signify changes that encroach upon communities like this one. Changes of developers cutting down the forest or woods that once surrounded these homesteads-bringing the sub-divisions of mega-houses and increased taxes which will force movement by those who are land-rich only. I continue to edit photographs from the visual chronicle I kept. Many of which document my own efforts to restore the land, which when I arrived was covered with bramble and brush and errant trees to its original glory. Subsequent prints that I hope to print and publish honor the landscape as it is before it changes permanently.

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