An SAIC alum unfolds a multimedia narrative of African American history.
Samantha Hill (MFA 2010) remembers growing up in a family where five generations were alive at once. She learned a vast amount of history through oral tradition, a large component of African American culture. "I was engaged in a practice of hearing their [my family’s] lives, like the civil rights movement, or the great migration. History doesn’t depict them as being important. It’s like a footnote. Whereas when you hear stories about what people were going through during those periods, it is important for others to hear it from the horse’s mouth.”
This history inspired her to create A Jeli’s Tale: An Anthology of Kinship, an experimental project focusing on the archival of African American families spanning from 1910–2010. A jeli (also known as a griot) is a historian, praise singer, storyteller, and repository of oral tradition. Adopting the role of a jeli, Hill began collecting stories—first from her family, then from other families who were willing to donate visual and tactile artifacts, and a plethora of recordings ranging from candid interviews to audio clips of children playing.