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Celebrating Sistrunk

An Exhibition to Honor Black Communities and History

By Phillip Dunlap

During a time when gathering with others has many challenges, the Broward Cultural Division’s Public Art and Design team has unveiled a new exhibition that explores the significance of gathering places in Black communities.  Focusing specifically on Fort Lauderdale’s historic Sistrunk neighborhood, the exhibition, featuring works by Black artists and designers, is on view at the African American Research Library & Cultural Center (2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) through May 2021. 

The Porch is the Tree is the Watering Hole
 explores space and community within the African Diaspora. Through the lenses of art, architecture, photography, and poetry, the exhibition examines concepts of community and life in Sistrunk. Whether it be a backyard cookout, a Sunday morning church service, or a gathering under a tree to listen to the latest stories, connection has always been at the center of the Black community. By exploring important landmarks throughout the Sistrunk neighborhood, local narratives were rediscovered and served as inspiration for the exhibition design; in particular, the American shotgun home and the back alley.

Works in the exhibition are displayed in “rooms” found within a single-family home. Photographs of the neighborhood hang on the walls and fabrics sway on the “front porch” as if hung from a laundry line. Poetry written on the floors and walls reinforces thoughts of shared experiences and collectivity. Chairs in the exhibition’s central gathering space reference chairs typically found on the porches of many homes in Sistrunk. They evoke the gathering places that both formal and informal porches provide to this Black community. The alley, a threshold of public and private space, is the path through which visitors travel to view works on display and learn of the community and its aspirations.

Artists and designers: Germane Barnes, Darius V. Daughtry, David I. Muir, Adler Guerrier, Olalekan Jeyifous, Adrienne Chadwick, Marlene Brunot, and George Gadson, were invited by the exhibition’s curator and Public Art and Design project manager, Dominique Denis, to explore the Sistrunk neighborhood to better understand the relationship its residents have with the built environment. Through art and design conceived or reimagined for this show, they present a tapestry of work reflecting past and present realities.


At the Division, we believe it is important to tell stories of those communities and individuals who are often overlooked. Black communities have been historically marginalized.  It is important to be reminded of traditions that have brought people together for centuries. Sistrunk is a neighborhood that is experiencing a surge in recent investment and interest that follows a long and rich history that needs to be celebrated.

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What’s Next?

Read the Exhibition Narrative and meet the artists behind this landmark exhibition here: