kale mays


Artist2Artist Fellowship


i am a story holder and memory worker who seeks to repair our relationships to this hypersettled land on which we've experienced both bondage and freedom, greeting the spirits who peer out from the cracks in the concrete. i draw my understanding of territory from both ecosystem and archives -  diving deep into the realm of traditional research, then pulling out to ask elements, ancestors, and more-than-human kin which stories are ready to be shared.

my work and my life are based in New York City, the gulag archipelago that was once freely occupied by thousands of autonomous clans that were postcolonially flattened into the "lenape/delaware" language cluster by settlers and corporate gentry. as i’m writing this, i’m currently hurtling through the mta's labyrinthian train tunnels, lined with the blood and bones of Black and migrant workers who carved out the glacial bedrock by hands gripping pickaxes and sticks of dynamite.

soon the train will re-emerge into glistening daylight as we cross a 200 year-old sky bridge, from which i can see the seaport at the end of Wall Street - a site where ancestors were auctioned and trafficked like livestock just a few short generations ago.

at the end of my journey, i’ll climb 2 stories of steps to sea level and plant my feet on the land where untold millions of Black liberators, Indigenous resistors, workers, and transcestors lay buried in unmarked ever-waterlogged shallow soils, rootbound by the weeds that traversed the oceans from so many of our home territories like prayers.  

we live in a place.

but where are we? and how did we get here?

Featured Image: Summer Solstice medicine harvest, 2021. Digital Photograph. Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Alexis Lim.

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Harlem River Water Story Ceremony, 2021. Digital Photograph. Harlem, NY. Photo by Alexis Lim.

Self-portrait, Winter Solstice grief ceremony, 2023. Digital Photograph. Van Cortlandt Plantation Estate African Burial Ground, Bronx, NY.

High Tide Coastal Harvest, 2023. Digital Photograph. Fort Tilden, Rockawacky Spit, Queens, NY.
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