I work ancestrally inheriting my grandmother’s roles as quilters, educators, and farmers. I grew up spending time with my grandparents in Mississippi, and part of my childhood visiting farms in Japan. I'm growing toward integrating my artistic practice with my love for farming. I’ve returned to New Orleans to answer this, where I am stewarding my Great Grandmother's, and three neighbors lots in hope to rematriate this land under my care. Ive been led to the creation of the young and ancient nation I call “Ailantha.” Named after the “Ghetto Palm” or “Tree of Heaven,” the Ailanthus Altissima tree is a most beautiful being indigenous to China. With the ability to clone itself when threatened, it can be found growing in any condition, on roofs, in toxic soils, in forests, with great rigor. Similarly displaced from her roots, the Tree of Heaven is cousin to the story of Black folks of the "western" hemisphere. In honor of this history I wonder what it might means to be a citizen in a nation, family, full of heavenly beings.
Featured Image: Marshland Restoration Program, 2022. Charcoal on Paper. Courtesy of the artist.