The Local Take Talks About The Praise House with Artist and Activist Charmaine Minniefield
This week on The Local Take, I asked artist Charmaine Minniefield to join us and speak about her traveling exhibition, The Praise House. Minniefield is a creative who celebrates our history with engaging recreations from past rituals and ceremonies, including the ring shout.
Her next event will take place in DeKalb County near a previous memorial to the Confederacy. Before we talk about that exhibition, I ask her about her creative process and her focus on ancestral rituals and symbols. Minniefield explains that she was looking to the ancestors to discern how they survived. She looked to their lives and stories as examples of what was possible.
I ask her about using her creative powers as a form of social protest. She speaks about the exhibition that took place at Oakland Cemetary in 2020. Eight hundred and seventy-nine souls were lost when the 1866 Atlanta City Council voted to remove “Slave Square,” where the formerly enslaved were buried. One hundred fifty years later the graves were discovered, left in a zone that regularly flooded. After the burials were recovered, needed remembrance came from The Praise House project.
Minniefield goes on to share that her activism comes from being a “praying woman.” She is filled with hope. Minniefield was in The Gambia when the Pandemic struck. She speaks about her quarantine journey back through intuition and memories of herself.
I ask her about the “Ring Shout” and “Indigo.” The significance to our culture. She speaks to retaining our prayers in our cultural identity. In fabrics, textiles, and dance, these things are encoded within us.
In January 2022, in DeKalb County, through a National Endowment for the Arts Grand and Emory University, The Praise House will begin an exhibition in downtown Decatur. Minniefield tells us the story of “Beacon Hill.” A freedman’s town founded by George Washington Scott for the formerly enslaved that existed downtown Decatur.
For more information on Charmaine Minniefield
For more information on The Praise House Project