The Great Migration: the first Kinship Project installation event

The Great Migration (Kinship Project)

Join me for the first installation from the Kinship Project:  A collection of African American family photography & stories from 1920 to 1950

Featuring the Chicago family migration stories of:

Diane Pearson Santana
Simba Tayari
Sherry Williams

‘A Gift to Warm the Body & Soul’ food performance by Diane’s son, Chef J. Frank Santana

Music performance by my cousin, singer/songwriter Lauren Fareira ‘aka’ Senorita Awesome

Saturday, December 15th, 2012 from 2:00pm to 6:00pm

Southside Hub of Production – Third Floor

5638 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60637

Installation is housed in Faheem Majeed’s rooftop shack on the third floor

This event is a part of the ‘Towards a Union of Public Artists’ exhibition at SHOP.

Project supporters:
Bronzeville Historical Society
Southside Hub of Production (SHOP)

Kinship Project Preview at the Three Story Feast

Hello Friends!

You are invited to the preview presentation of A Jeli’s Tale:  An Anthology of Kinship during the Three Story Street Feast on November 18th from 6pm – 9pm.

The Kinship Project began as an experimental public participation project consisting of over 200 photographs of African American families from 1910 to 2010 hung in the hallways of SHoP.   I invited to public to add their own family stories and photography to the collection, but the publics contributed more than just their stories.   During my residency at SHoP, I had the opportunity to collect sounds of children at play, music and documentation of family keepsakes.  I would like to use this opportunity to share the Kinship Anthology with you while the project is still in progress.   I welcome your thoughts and insights about the project.

Three Story Street Feast is a cross-cultural, street-food themed prix fixe five-course meal presenting local foods prepared by SHoP “resident” chef, Samm Petrichos, of Spice ( The meal will be served in different spaces throughout Fenn Mansion in a “progressive style dinner” with performances embellishing the night.   I will be documenting sound samples of the dinner, which may become a part of the Kinship Anthology as one of the performances.

This is an opportunity for the audience to ‘peek behind the curtain’ of the Kinship Project while enjoying a delicious five-course meal.   I hope to see you there!

For more information about the event, please visit the event Facebook page at:

Frequently Asked Questions: What is a Jeli?

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Hello Friends!

So . . . I have been discussing my latest project, A Jeli’s Tale:  An Anthology of Kinship with the public and many of the same questions are popping up about this project during my conversations.  So, I thought it would be helpful (and fun) to place all of the questions I have collected in this blog.

Are you ready for the Q & A?  Here we go!

Q:  What is a Jeli?

A:  A Jeli (or griot) is a historian, advisor, arbitrator, praise singer, and storyteller.   In West African traditions, a Jeli is a living library of songs, stories and key artistic components of a culture whose role is to keep an oral history of the tribe or village. 

Q:  Why did you choose to adopt the role of a Jeli?

A:  A Jeli’s role is to learn a tribe’s history and to perform tribe’s linage through song.  In my artistic practice, I collect people’s stories to construct installations which allow the public to experience these stories in an intimate art environment.  So, I adopted the role of a Jeli as a metaphor for my artistic practice.

Q:  Do you sing people’s stories?

A:  No, I edit my subject’s interviews with music and soundscapes.   Then I play the narrative soundtrack in an environment constructed with memorabilia, such as family photographs.

Q:   Do you need original photographs for this project?

A:  No, I can make a digital copy of your photograph to add to the Anthology.  Your donation will be used for exhibition purposes only.

Q:  That sounds really cool, but I’m not originally from Chicago.  Can I still participate in your project?

A: Yes, you can!  I am interested in collecting stories from people who are living in Chicago.  It’s individuals like you that makes Chicago a culturally rich city.  If you currently calling Chicago you home (even if it’s temporary), then I would like to add you family stories and/or photographs to the Anthology.

Q:  Great!  How can I participate?

A:  Thanks for your support!  Please contact me through this website and we will set up an appointment for story collection.  If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me.  I welcome all kinds of inquires.  :)

Stay tuned for posts about family story contributions donated to the Anthology!