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How I Got Over by Daesha Devón Harris


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About the work

“Inspired by family legend, Black Folklore and American Slave Narratives- particularly passages that involve the crossing of water, “One More River to Cross”, addresses America’s enduring legacies of colonialism and systemic racism that defines this nation’s history, while reiterating the central narrative that emerges from the referenced memoirs – the ongoing struggle for Freedom. Connecting elements from these stories while thinking about the daily episodes of police brutality that occur across the country, I contemplate both the historic and contemporary state sanctioned violence against Black communities, the approval of this violence by the general public (in the form of disregard or unsolicited advice on how Black people should “exist” in order not to be terrorized) and the absence of justice in response to these crimes. The incarnation of recently slain individuals, civil rights martyrs, Freedmen and the formerly enslaved summon the spirit of resistance in these aquatic landscapes. Drawing support and strength from our sacred texts and spiritual music, this series is about a Black experience that is deeply connected to the landscape, the idea of home and it’s intersections with water. Water becomes symbolic of Freedom whether it is in this world or the next and at the same time is evidence of social and cultural boundaries. Water has to be crossed on the journey to Freedom.

My own family’s traditions revolve heavily around the pastoral landscape, lakes and rivers of my home region. These memories, experiences and sites are embedded in my work and reiterate the meaningful relationship with the land that people of the African Diaspora carry on both physically and spiritually. The water’s edge functions as a sanctuary where conversations about politics, community affairs and family drama flow freely, I now recognize it’s value not only as a source of physical nourishment but also of spirituality and respite. The water offers a sense of Freedom from the cares of the day, however temporary. It is at the water we feel the sincerest actuality of home.” – Daesha Devón Harris

Currently on view as part of Reclamation on view at Southampton History Museum, May 10 – September 28, 2024.

Daesha Devón Harris is an interdisciplinary visual artist whose work probes the interstices of narrative, history, the politics of place, and the greater African Diaspora, intertwined with photography, mixed media, text, and video. The gentrification of her hometown of Saratoga Springs, New York, and its effect on the local Black community, has played a major role in both her advocacy and artwork.

Harris holds a BFA in Studio Art from the College of Saint Rose, and a MFA in Visual Art from the University at Buffalo, and her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. Harris has received various awards, honors, and fellowships, and her work has been featured in a number of publications and books. Harris was a grantee of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation; a recipient of the Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship; a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist’s Fellow in Photography; and has participated in artist residencies across the country including the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; Yaddo; and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. She is a returning Senior Visiting Fellow at Skidmore College’s MDOCS Storyteller’s Institute and was named as one of the Royal Photographic Society’s Hundred Heroines.

Artwork: How I Got Over, 2017 by Daesha Devón Harris
56 x 42 inches Dye-sub printed silk


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