Scott Alves Barton: Buried in the Heart: A Repast for Angels and Martyrs

January 23, 2022 - May 29, 2022

Scott Barton
Buried in the Heart-Knucklebone-Kosmogram: Henrietta Snipes Gullah sweetgrass basket; vintage Waechtersbach cobalt blue china; four vintage Japanese gold leaf porcelain bowls filled with: dendê palm oil, honey, blood, rum, pickled egg, chicken and duck wishbones, and fingernail polish; four glass cloches; Italian linen napkins. Photo courtesy of the artist.

On view: January 23-May 29 2022
Saturday, May 14, 2022 - 3-5 pm: Artist talk followed by reception. Click here for more information.

Click here to view the exhibition virtually.

Watch Meeting the Elders in Conversation, 2021 here.

Watch The Four Moments of the Sun: A Commensal Bricolage Imagined and Created in Honor of Ahmaud “Maud” Marquez Arbery, Breonna Shaquelle Taylor, George Perry Floyd Jr., and Jacob S. Blake Jr., 2021 here.

Listen to the sound installation for Poundcake and Coffee, 2022, here.
In 1955, fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was lynched during a visit to relatives in Mississippi following an accusation by Caroline Bryant that he had made sexual advances to her in the family grocery store where she worked. Poundcake and Coffee is a representation of the 2008 meeting between Carolyn Bryant Donham, her daughter-in-law Marsha Bryant, and historian Timothy Tyson at which Donham reportedly recanted some of her original 1955 trial testimony. Roy Bryant, Donham’s husband at the time, and his half-brother J.W. Milam were acquitted of the murder of Till. After the acquittal, Bryan and Milam admitted that they had abducted and lynched Till. The audio file contains portions of 1955 trial transcript and 2008 interview with Timothy Tyson read by Susan Glisson (Carolyn Bryant Donham) and Charles H. Tucker (District Attorney, Timothy Tyson); narration by the artist. Tracy Collins, technical consultant.

There can be no reconciliation and healing without remembering the past.
— Bryan Stephenson

There is, was, or will be one day when our dearest ones are going home. Then they enter into an embrace with all of the ancestors that have left before them. While in the transition from this life into death the family and community are all in mourning although a funeral is frequently not seen as finite in the African Diaspora. Funerals provide a moment to commemorate the dead—yet we don’t die; we rest. For many Diasporic people death is not the end of life, but a phase in the cycle of the Kongo Cosmogram, the "four moments of the sun,” and its Kalunga line separating life and afterlife.

A major aspect of honoring the dead and the living is encapsulated in the foods and meals of mourning, ebó (offertory), sacraments, and gustatory rites for both entities. The repast is foundational as a site of memory to generate a protocol that fosters and enshrines collective memory. Our repast rites for the dead are concurrently touchstones for the living: providing a bridge between the realms, and an ongoing dialogue with our heritage traditions. The poetics of the repast event as a “FoodAct” are culturally significant moments in the logical relationship between food, ritual, and memory, where the symbolic in ritual practice is transcribed overtop everyday existence. Whether considering Aráòrun, from the Yoruba, or our own funerary and repast rites for honoring the dead, an ongoing dialogue is opened with Diaspora heritage traditions.

This literal and symbolic repast individually and archetypically honors the deaths of Ahmaud “Maud” Arbery, Breonna Shaquelle Taylor, and George Perry Floyd Jr., and the maiming of Jacob S. Blake Jr. By creating and sharing a meal we also honor the multitude of individuals killed by state sponsored or private violence. This repast, begun sixteen months ago during the hard lockdown, focuses on dishes that the four individuals would have enjoyed eating or cooking. The repast was shared with four of my neighbors, Harlem elders, also in the roles of individuals and archetypes. Within their lives and their works, these four individuals are dedicated to civil rights, Black culture, the politics of identity and respect for Black life, and restorative justice. They are Charles Daniel Dawson, Marie Dutton Brown, John Pinderhughes and John Dowell. The resulting video documentation is part of the exhibition.

Scott Alves Barton, September 2021

This is a Call & Response event. Scott Alves Barton’s collaborators on this project include Arianne King Comer and Harlem Needle Arts.

About the Artist
Scott Alves Barton holds a PhD in Food Studies from New York University and is a faculty fellow in Race and Resilience at the University of Notre Dame. He had a 25-year career as an executive chef and culinary educator. Ebony magazine named him one of the top 25 African American/Diaspora chefs. His research and publications focus on women’s knowledge, the intersection of secular and sacred cuisine as a marker of identity politics, cultural heritage, political resistance, and self-determination in Northeastern Brazil. Recent publications include “Radical Moves from the Margins: Enslaved Entertainments as Harvest Celebration in Northeastern Brazil,” in The Body Questions: Celebrating Flamenco’s Tangled Roots, and “Food and Faith,” in Bryant Terry’s Black Food: Stories, Art and Recipes from the African Diaspora. Barton’s previous Call & Response residencies include a collaboration with Portia Cobb, The Garden Project: Imagining Eliza and Lizzie and Juba/Sanctuary. Barton is currently writing a companion manuscript for this exhibition, Reckoning with Violence and Black Death: Repasts as Community Ritual.

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