Daesha Devón Harris
The thought of home has always been a comfort and an inspiration to me: the concept, people, places, history and the actual physical structure. As gentrification has reshaped Black communities through displacement, including my own, I am driven to explore how race, class, and gender have both affected and complicated the idea of "home" for my community and family. Growing up, my greatest joy was exploring the pastoral landscape of my immediate and extended home. These outings allowed me to not only experience familial traditions connected to the landscape but also to learn personal and cultural history. The stories that my family told entranced me and compelled me to seek out the missing stories- those untold and those forgotten. Narratives are central to my art practice and the stories that inspire my work have both local origins and that of the greater African Diaspora including Black Folklore, Freedom Journeys and Spirituals.
Foregrounding the ephemerality of family histories, these memories, experiences and sites are embedded in my work. Equally important is confronting America’s enduring legacies of colonialism and structural racism. Though Black people continue to be systematically excluded from national narratives of success and citizenship, there has been agency, uplift and triumph among Black communities. By reclaiming our intimate memories and cultural histories, I make it a point to illustrate that the Black community is not defined by these barriers, but rather show the strength, faith and hope of a people.
Featured Image: Daesha Devón Harris, I do not need Freedom when I’m dead. I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread., 2017. Chromira print and letter opener in hardwood box with etched glass. Courtesy of the artist.