This post is a continuation of a series of responses to Community and Identity from our Hatch Artists. As part of their participation in the program, each artist has been tasked with writing post about their thoughts and the Hatch process for our blog. After each session, we will release some of their responses. We hope you enjoy reading their eloquent words as much as a we did!
This week, our artists were tasked with answering the questions:
How do you define “community”?
What are the influences that shape your identity?
“Where I am from people wear apathy like it is a style” is a statement that one of my fellow Hatch artists used to describe their community during a game “Where I’m from” in the first session of Hatch. Immediately I was blown away by this statement for two reasons: first because this truth was so poetically and beautifully said that it left me reflective long after the session was over; and secondly, this statement struck me because although this artist’s background is completely different my own we could share the same sentiment about those who we perceive to be in our community. Until recently I thought of community as something that was mostly defined by geography therefore it had been a challenge for me to feel like I belonged to any particular one. When I was growing up I moved around constantly. My father was in the military and I lived and traveled to many states until I was fourteen years old when my mother, siblings, and I moved to our family-owned homestead in East Arkansas. Although I consider the Delta to be home I never quite fit within the culture there. I felt like I was an observer rather than a partaker. Even now as an adult because of my occupation as an artist I still travel quite a bit and it is difficult for me to make permanent connections to a certain geographical community. Informed by this impermanence, throughout my life and in my art I have been in search to find ways to connect these dissimilar spaces, cultures and times to one another. Going beyond thinking of community as a fixed concrete place, at this one Hatch session, it was refreshing to me to restructure my view of community as an idea, a spirit and a likeminded group of people. In another exercise, we used a flip chart to list words associated with community. Words like family, communication, and separation especially poignant to me because by measuring my community this way allows me to always feel connected. My view of what community means has expanded and I will be exploring this redefined idea for a while.
By Angela Davis Johnson
For me and in this western part of the world I spend my time in, community has come to have a dual meaning. It is both the neighborhood and type of people that I find myself, my physical home imbedded in (so I may or may not feel connected to it), and it is the group of people and identities, whether scattered around a city, region or multiple cities that is my chosen group of humans, activities, trees, objects and street corners. Online community has become a thing and family hasn’t just been blood for sometime now. We are probably all experiencing multiple communities on a daily basis, even from moment to moment. It is interesting to have adapted to a thing without naming or knowing it. And it is also probably true too, that we are all experiencing multiple identities within and because of that same structure.
When we last met for Hatch programming, we practiced improvisational exercises based in getting our associations of “where I come from..” out in the open, without too much thought or judgement – it was quickly a conflict. Because the communities, physical places I grew up, where I found myself embedded within, were beautiful, cruel, happenstance, not my choice, unknown. And that has influenced who I am. And the communities I have helped build, that I have in fact known and chosen, the faces, words, shared thoughts – well that community is many and faceted too. And that has influenced who I am.
I moved a lot growing up. From rural Virginia to suburban Detroit to now long time Atlantan. Some of my strongest memories growing up, are intergenerational, intercultural block parties, pot-lucks. Low-income family’s who knew how to make a lot with very little. Because of many parts of my identity, I was often in the minority, and the double edged sword of religion takes up a large chunk of my best and worst memories. People defied their status, and that has defined my identity. People can be the best. Even in spite of the people who are not. The gems, they stand out and leave their mark too.
It would be self-evasive let alone pointless to ignore that what comes in touch with you, in any way, in fact makes a home. Whatever kind of home that may be, whether we want it or not. End of the day, what you do with what is in front of you is so much more interesting than what you could’ve done somewhere else, some other time. I’m here, I’m ….well, actually a lot of things. Let’s make some art about it.
by Hez Stalcup