Emily Carris-Duncan & Joanne Douglas: Seeking Shelter - Ancestors in the Aquifer
Presented as Part of Future Ecologies
Friday, September 24, 2021 - Sunday, October 31, 2021

Emily Carris-Duncan & Joanne Douglas: Seeking Shelter – Ancestors in the Aquifer

Friday, September 24, 2021 – Sunday, October 31, 2021
Presented as Part of Future Ecologies

About the Artworks

Emily Carris-Duncan, Quilt: Ancestors in the Aquifer, 2020-2021
Cotton quilt made of: naturally dyed cotton (dye materials including: indigo bracken (fern), osage orange, fustic, marigold, chestnut, Iron (derived from slave shackles) cutch, dock, pomegranate), cotton poly thread

This quilt explores the quilt as a multifaceted tool of survival. This quilt is a map, a journal, it is warmth, a shelter, protection, emotional anchoring. Craft work is a key to survival and preservation within the black community. Specifically the work of sewing, often dismissed as “women’s work” this revolutionary act has held the key instructions for survival throughout time in the creation of these complicated objects with simple forms.

Quilts have a history of holding messages in the symbols of the shapes, for instance, a triangle is a flying goose signifying freedom. With this quilts become maps of the heart and of place. This quilt is one of both place and heart. It marks places significant to the continued survival of the black community in Philadelphia, particularly in the rapidly gentrifying South West Philadelphia watershed.

Joanne Douglas, The “Ship”: Seeking Shelter: Ancestors in the Aquifer, 2021
wood, fiber, LED strip lights, TV monitor, plants.

Joanne Douglas, Ancestral Procession, 2021
Digital Video, Run Time: 3 min

Aquifer (n.) – a body of permeable rock which contain or transmit groundwater
Bunker (n.) – A reinforced underground shelter

The Culture surfaces in black bodies dispersed across the continents. In parallel, water ebbs and flows, plunging through fissures, carving deep canyons, eroding shorelines on a journey to commune in the oceans. Our ancestors are fluid.

With the present and immediate forecast of natural disasters, we stretch and release, imaging new ways of safety. A shelter, created in opposition to the static individualism that informs the design of the “bunker”.

“This is my home. You would call it a ship-a vast one compared to the ones your people have built. What it is truly doesn’t translate. You’ll be understood if you call it a ship..” ~ an excerpt from Dawn, Octavia Butler.

Based on the “living ship” in Ocatvia Butler’s Dawn. We ask, what does a bunker look like from the perspective of black folx broadly and us as Black Femme, specifically? If individualism is the antithesis of the Dark Feminine (Gumbs, M Archives 2018) how can a shelter meant to protect and shut out the elements and perceived threat of “other” be inviting, transparent, resting on our ancestors?

This structure took form without stagnant blueprints, breathing and shifting as the builder moved through pain, jubilee, exhaustion and wonder. We welcome you into our manifestation of safety. It is alive.

About the Artists

Joanne Douglas is an environmental artist and educator currently living and working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her current position as the Watershed Interpretation Manager at Bartram’s Garden and membership in Kosmologym, an arts and game design collective, informs the research and storytelling that shape her artistic practice. Her work is interdisciplinary and multimedia, using sensory cues to communicate scientific data and cultural perceptions and definitions of space. Joanne holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
More Info: @d0ugies

Emily Carris-Duncan is an artist and educator. Her/Their work explores the materiality of trauma using textile techniques. Carris links the personal and cultural legacy of slavery while mulling the question of been trauma lives after the act. They have recently exhibited at The Colored Girls Museum and Past Present Projects in Philadelphia, as well as EFA Project Space in New York. They were a 2020 fellow at The Center For Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania and 2021 Smithsonian African American Craft Summit participant. They currently live and work in Vermont and Philadelphia.
More Info: emilycarris.art / @carrisbears