Two years ago I began a journey down Auburn Avenue. The street was at the brink of construction for the new Atlanta Streetcar. I committed myself back then to follow this story and to begin to build a relationship with the street and it’s people. I have worked at building this relationship by walking this street, day after day, talking to people, taking pictures and telling stories. I have done this by trying to tell this evolving story while talking about my relationship to what is happening along Auburn Avenue. I have never hid my hand. I have always been up front. My concern was African American history. Through my blog, Flickr photo albums, Twitter, Vimeo and Youtube channels and Instagram I’ve tried to share this story. The work has revolved around one key question: How will we remember as the street and the city moves forward? Will the next chapter in the life of Sweet Auburn remember the former chapters?
This street was the bedrock of the African American community back in the day. King and Maynard Jackson were touched by this street. Martin L. King Jr. was raised on this street and now he rest on this street. Maynard Jackson’s grandfather once ran this street as he modeled for Maynard how to run this city. As millions come to Atlanta and journey down to the King Center and Ebenezer do they know they are walking a pass The Southern Christian Leadership, the Mason’s Lodge where John Wesley Dobbs once led, do they notice the bust of John Wesley Dobbs looking onto the street he named? Do they know they are passing WERD Radio, The Atlanta Daily World, The Rucker Building, the financial kingdom that Alonzo Herndon built and do they stop at the Apex Museum? Will the new streetcar take them pass history and ultimately lead to historical amnesia? This work doesn’t answer these questions but it sure hopes to raise them and invite you in on the discussion.
As I approach my thesis exhibition I am eternally thankful to the faculty at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) who helped me see my way through this work. They worked with me to make sure I led with the visual while not ignoring my love for writing. They were the perfect faculty for me and I am thankful. To my colleagues at who pushed me during critiques of the work as it developed, I learned so much from each of you. To Mr. Dan Moore Sr. and the Apex Museum staff you have been so kind and supportive from day one and I am thankful. I am honored to have my work on display at the Apex Museum. My work comes out of the mission and vision of the Apex. This had to be the first place I had a show and I am humbled to have my work hang on the walls of the Apex. Finally to my family who have supported me through this work. Your encouragement and patience coupled with your love is what has sustained me during long hours of work. Especially to my wife, Dr. Vanessa Watkins, without you this would’ve been impossible.
The show is up and ready for you. I invite you to come by and see the work:
Opening Reception: Friday, October 16, 2015 from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. Drop in when you can and come by and take fifteen minutes to see the work and say hello.
Faith in Sweet Auburn: The Next Chapter
The Apex Museum
135 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30303