A Seven Year Journey
Looking for photos to use in my next composition, I found images I captured at Hampton National Historic Site in 2011. It was my first visit there, just wandering, then accepting the invitation to tour the mansion...then finding myself in the mansion kitchen, a choking feeling in my throat, realizing that slaves had worked where I stood, allowed no relief from indoor temperatures well into the triple digits. It took these seven years and buying my house at the iron forges for me to find my way back to that moment, but through these photo artifacts I can sense my state of mind on that day.
I would never judge or blame myself for how my journey has progressed…especially for an artist, these things have their own pace and the revelations come in their own time. But I can’t help but think that the woefully uninformed state from which I started is a microcosm of broader American culture. From my childhood near Mount Airy and His Lordship’s Kindness, to my teenage years in a place where kidnapped Native American children were re-formed to a European mold, to my current life on land marked by industrial slavery, I have always been surrounded by the darkest truths about American history.
I have to ask: Does this history really follow me? Am I special in some way? Or could many Americans trace their lives along a timeline of slavery and white crimes against Native American peoples? What about you?