Cheryl Harper installation, “Passages” at Maier Museum at Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA
February 28, 2020 @ 8:00 am - May 3, 2020 @ 5:00 pm| Free
Cheryl Harper’s Passages: Oppressed and Oppressors is an installation reflecting a plantation slave owning past as well as a Holocaust loss. Harper and her husband began a journey to the south to find out more about an ancestral name of Lesesne that stubbornly persisted as a family middle name for hundreds of years. When Cheryl realized the magnitude of the ancestral history of plantations and slave owning, she thought of the irony of marrying into a family who oppressed when her own was oppressed by antisemitism, including two great aunts who were lost in the Holocaust. She has their picture but no names for them. Their brothers emigrated to America but no-one today can name the sisters. Passages takes into account the history of marriages in both sides of the family, including actual wedding dresses and the concept of privilege at the expense of the oppressed. The irony of Africans losing their identities and her aunts losing theirs was an impetus for her thinking. The installation includes runaway slave ads placed by the family as well as artifacts that refer to family privilege or lack of it.