Ifé Franklin’s back porch in Roxbury, MA served as the prototype for the first ancestor slave cabin. With the help of friends, Ifé wrapped her back porch with handmade Adire fabric to visualize of what the first ancestor slave cabin would look like.
The first public installation of the Ancestor Slave Cabin was at Medicine Wheel Productions' Spoke Gallery, in South Boston, MA, during September-November 2013. It was a multi-dimensional installation, exhibition and performance piece. This piece served as a living testament honoring Africans and African Americans who lived and died as enslaved people in The American South. Through this installation, I explored the “shared” history of enslavement that remains a minefield of suffering as well as love. I believe a collective healing needs to take place to bring forth some relief of the pain, suffering, and injustice that still stands today and continues to separate and haunt us.
Images by Derek Lumpkins and Ifé Franklin
In 2014 Ifé Franklin was invited to exhibit her first Ancestor Slave Cabin at the Harbor Gallery at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Images by Amatul Hannan and Ifé Franklin
In 2014, the first Ancestor Slave Cabin was included in The Fitchburg Art Museum's Global Africa Exhibition and was purchased for the Museum's permanent collection.
The 2nd Ancestor Slave Cabin was part of the 2015 Franklin Park Art Grove, funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts and presented by the the Franklin Park Coalition. Franklin Park, "the largest park and crowning jewel of Frederick Law Olmsted's achievements in Boston" is located at the nexus of Boston's Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods. The cabin was created with community involvement and members of the public were invited to write personal narratives directly on indigo-blue painted sections of the cabin using paint pens.
Images by Craig Bailey Perspective Photo and Ifé Franklin.
The 3rd Ancestor Slave Cabin was part of the 2016 North Charleston Arts Fest , in South Carolina.
"A pre-festival event, contemporary artist Ife Franklin highlights the importance of slave dwellings with a life-size replica of a slave cabin.
"The cabin, painted indigo in honor of the indigo the slaves produced, draws attention to the ancestry of slaves, spirits and their dwellings. After a performance of “The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae” in which Franklin calls upon the spirit of her ancestors, the community is invited to write their own messages on the cabin structure to communicate with the souls, spirits and kindred of ancestor slaves.
"Interactive and powerful, this exhibit turns our attention to an important part of local and national history."
From: Visual arts abound at N. Charleston festival, by Scott D. Elingburg. Special to The Post and Courier Apr 26, 2016
The 4th Ancestor Slave Cabin was erected in Franklin Park, Boston MA in the Fall of 2017. A public event featured the unveiling of the cabin/altar as well as community Ring Shout and picnic.
This project was funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) Creative City grant program. Creative City is funded by the Barr Foundation, with support from the Boston Foundation.
Images by Wayne Lake, Leo Alarcon, and Ifé Franklin