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The African Odyssey Exhibit

These are not “professional” photographs taken for exhibition. Some time ago, I began work on my play, Crossing a Deep River: A Ritual Drama in Three MovementsCrossing a Deep River is the flowering of a seed planted long ago by my grandmother, who rocked a little girl to sleep and whispered the words, “My father said that we have a home over there,” with the emphasis very much on the words “over there.” She spoke fully possessed of an understanding of not only what it meant to be an African American, but also a diasporic African, the daughter of a formerly enslaved father, and the descendant of unwilling immigrants to the Chesapeake in the 17th and 18th centuries.

I took the photos in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Senegal to support my written notes when I would later sit down (or stand up) to write. And when I saw the pictures, I realized that they tell a story, a very personal story that explores the problem of memory in a way that I had neither anticipated nor expected. I want to share that story through the collection of photographs and had lettered captions that I now call African Odyssey. If you will see and feel a portion of what I saw and felt, it will not matter that neither my handwriting nor the photographs are perfect.

Joanne Braxton

Past Displays

This exhibition has been featured in public schools and libraries, at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, the Thomas Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center, The Atlantic Studies Institute at the University of Michigan, and The University of Muenster in Germany among other locations.

Press releases in Microsoft Word format highlight the exhibit’s opening at Lafayette High School (doc) and the Black Hisotry Museum (doc).