Where Blackness Grows
I’m @erika_francoitalian and I’m the first artist-curator of the Clutch Gallery’s participation in the Hyde Park Art Center’s city-wide “Artists Run Chicago 2.0”.
My grandmother, an avid gardener, could never resist taking a clipping from a plant that had a striking flower, beautiful leaf, or unusual shape.
One day, decades ago, she clipped a small branch from a fig tree. This was no ordinary tree, but a giant fig tree on the plantation where her great-grandparents had been enslaved in rural Georgia.
Her own grandfather had been born just two months after the Civil War ended.
The giant tree in her Atlanta backyard, grown from that small cutting, became a source of bittersweet pleasure for me. How could something so beautiful, so delicious... so alive mark such ugliness?
What is it to know the very place where your family remained enslaved for countless generations? What does one feel while setting foot on this land?
Today’s Clutch Gallery work is entitled “Where Blackness Grows.”
Dirt, black figs, and Black Spirit (an elixir of every known black fruit), Chicago, 2020.