In the strictest sense, flight is about breaking the bonds of gravity in order to claim a semblance of freedom. This came to mind when planning pieces to best inhabit an airport. Flight and freedom, in a contemporary sense, are class-based activities. These threads are also woven into the narrative of the African Diaspora. Via the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, a folktale with origins in the Igbo people speaks of the people who could fly. It’s a throughline in several feature films dealing with the effects of African slavery. As told in Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales,
“They say the people could fly. Say that long ago in Africa, some of the people knew magic. And they would walk up on the air like climbin’ up on a gate. And they flew like blackbirds over the fields. Black, shiny wings flappin’ against the blue up there.”
The companion pieces created for this show (Stamps Paid) are based, in part, on a character from Toni Morrison’s Beloved. The character Stamp Paid resonates with me for two reasons. 1) He chose his name, as act of self determination and freedom, and 2) his purpose was to act as a ‘liberation agent’; he ferried souls along the Underground Railroad into a new existence. Whenever I receive a piece of metered postage, I always think of that character and how the stamps on packages are also manifestations of a type of boundless freedom. In particular, the stamps used in these works feature images of people of African and Indigenous descent that were pioneering liberation agents in their own right. Their personage is the foundation for the elevation of many.