In our hyperactive society, a day doesn’t sound like much time. We open our eyes and go about our days without much thought to the events that are happening around us. But when the people you are spending time with are in their early-to-mid eighties, you realize that a day with them is truly a blessing. A few months back I spent nearly an entire day with my grandparents and what a blessing it was.
My grandmother had scheduled an at-home hair appointment, per her biweekly routine, and I decided I would catch her hairstylist in the hope that she would fit me in for a quick ‘straw-set’. By the time I’d arrived, my grandmother’s hair was finished and Poppie was making his way to the chair for a haircut. I stood and chatted, watching the stylist close the buttons of the apron she had spread over him to catch the falling hair from her clippers. The moment struck me as important and I thought to catch it on my camera. What I captured was a quiet memory I’ll never forget.
From the telephone hung too close to the door frame, to the beveled brown edges of the counters, to the white gas stove, and to the modern era fridge that has caught me countless times stealing juices and snacks when my grandparents weren’t looking. Everything positioned nearly the same way it had been for at least twenty years. Many of my memories from childhood are fragmented and difficult to recall. But it’s refreshing to know (and witness) that throughout all of my life’s changes, the kitchen of my grandparents’ home has remained the same. This moment grounded me in a way that I hadn’t experienced in a very long time. I felt whole, full, complete.
For all minority cultures and particularly African Americans, I believe it is critically important to investigate our histories; to know what has changed and what has remained the same. My work often deals with black culture and it’s the amalgamation of its historical origins. I typically collage images, of people, places, and materials from across the diaspora and draw them in an attempt to surface ideas, norms, beliefs, and connections that may not be visible unless juxtaposed. I am excited to incorporate these images into my work and I’m sure pieces of them will become recurring motifs. But As I watched Poppie having his hair trimmed, I realized that he and my grandmother are my only surviving elders and that my access to their experiences, their memories, their ideas, is fleeting.
A day doesn’t sound like much time. But this day with them was truly a blessing.