Viewed through the lenses of art, architecture, photography, and poetry, The Porch is the Tree is the Watering Hole is a dynamic exploration of space and community within the African Diaspora.
As Black communities become increasingly marginalized, it is important to be reminded of traditions that have brought people together for centuries. 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. It is within that context that a group of Black artists and designers came together to explore life in Sistrunk, a historical Black neighborhood in Broward County, Florida.
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 curator Dominique Denis to examine the significance of gathering places in Black communities.
Through works of art and design conceived or reimagined for this show, they present a tapestry of work reflecting past and present realities.
Public spaces are inhabited and experienced differently within 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. These two staples of most Black neighborhoods evoke emotions and memories to be unraveled, augmented, and reimagined as an art exhibition.
Featured artists display their work in “rooms” found within the single-family home. Photographs of the neighborhood are displayed 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 central gathering space reference the chairs typically found on the porches of many homes in Sistrunk. They recreate the gathering place that both formal an informal porches provide to this Black community. The alley, threshold of public and private land, is the path through which visitors will learn of the community engagement and aspirations. It is also where the visual artists display their work.
The Porch is the Tree is the Watering Hole is an introspection and investigation meant to highlight the Black experience in Black neighborhoods. It is a collaborative effort to bring forth a collective energy that celebrates Sistrunk’s wonderful history.
Germane Barnes’ research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity. Mining architecture’s social and political agency, he examines how the built environment influences black domesticity. His design and research contributions have been published and exhibited internationally.
David J. Muir
David I. Muir’s love for candid, cultural and lifestyle photography inspires his work, and is a signature component of his photo-art collections. His critically acclaimed collection, Pieces of Jamaica, led to national and international exhibition tours and was published as a book in 2012.
Darius V. Daughtry
Darius V. Daughtry is a poet, playwright, and educator. He is an artist whose main medium is language. Story and authentically told narrative, are at the center of everything he does. Whether poem or play, he is meticulous about making sure each word read or heard evokes thought and/or an emotional response.
Marlene Brunot brings a fresh and unique approach to the visual representation of subject matters related to community engagement, neighborhood improvement and public investment.
Adler Guerrier, born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, lives and works in Miami, Florida. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, including Coffee, Rhum, Sugar, & Gold: A Post Colonial Paradox at Museum of African Diaspora.
Olalekan Jeyifous’s work has been exhibited at venues such as the Studio Museum in Harlem and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Vitra Design Museum, Germany and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain.
George Gadson discovered his talent for art in 1981 while in search of a means of creative relaxation from the rigors of a demanding banking career. He is a multi-disciplinary artist, griot and philosopher of the contemporary African American experience.
Adrienne Chadwick is a visual artist who utilizes accumulation, repetition, and translucence to express ideas related to power and resistance, in society and nature.
The overall concept for the exhibition was conceived during the Summer of 2019. While managing public art projects in the Sistrunk area, Denis felt a sense of déjà vu and wanted to further explore the neighborhood to better understand the relationship Sistrunk residents have with the built environment. The Porch is the Tree is the Watering Hole’s design concept is centered around two staples of most Black neighborhoods: the gathering place and the back alley. The exhibition’s main goal is to bring about a better understanding of this historical Black community and to inform the type of public art projects best suited for the area.
– Exhibition Curator, Dominique Denis
Special Thanks to:
Denis Harrison, for her contribution to the Historic Sistrunk installation
Luke Jenkins, exhibition preparator
Andy Royston, for the exhibition graphic design