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!

Current Public Project: A Jeli’s Tale: An Anthology of Kinship

A Jeli’s Tale: Anthology of Kinship is an experimental audience participation project by Samantha Hill.  The goal of this project is to collect family stories and photographs in order to build an ethnographic record of Chicago.

Samantha Hill constructed an installation of found & donated African American family photographs from 1910 to 2010 within Southside Hub of Production (SHoP).  The photographs are hung on a series of clotheslines that operate as map to link several families into a single tribe.

The public will be asked to donate copies of their family photographs & stories to contribute to the Anthology during the duration of the exhibition.  Photos can be copied at SHoP and reprinted by Samantha Hill to include in the clothesline installation. *

Open Story/Photo Recording Sessions:  Saturdays from 3pm – 6pm 

Please contact Samantha Hill at or call (773) 828-9549 for an appointment.

*Note:  All stories and photographs donated to the project are for public display purposes only.  Participants retain ownership of all personal materials.