What do the different elements of the MBK Freedom Collage symbolize?
Burlap – A common material used for the storage and shipping of goods on the triangular trade routes, burlap was also used innovatively by slaves to make clothing and a variety of other items.
Scraps of cloth – The red, yellow, green, and black scraps of cloth represent the traditional colors of Africa, the Freedom Seekers’ homeland. The jean and colorless scraps represent the few types of materials given to those who were enslaved to make their own clothing. In joining these scraps of clothing, we represent the origin and eventual return of the vibrant color patterns of the Freedom Seekers and their ancestors. The colored cloth also honors the vibrant work of one of our project inspirations, Gullah artist Diane Britton Dunham.
Drift wood – The drift wood was collected on the rocky shores of Lake Erie, near the Peace Bridge and Broderick Park, in the exact location where Freedom Seekers crossed the swift paced Niagara River into Canada. This wood is soaked with the same water that soaked the Freedom Seekers as they made their way across the border.
Broken chain link – We incorporated a broken chain link to honor and symbolize the Freedom Seekers who began their journey to freedom the exact moment they broke free from their chains. With this chain link, we also honor the Tula Monument of Curacao, the Path to Freedom sculpture in Facer Park in Sandusky, Ohio, and the Emancipation Statue in Barbados, all of which we studied for inspiration and as they incorporate chains or broken chains in their symbolic tributes to Freedom Seekers.
Hand print – We pressed a hand print to allow our students to imagine themselves as a Freedom Seeker, pushing up on the muddy ground below, using any strength they had left to continue their courageous journey to freedom in Canada.
Creek stones – The stones seen at the bottom of our exhibit were taken, with permission, from a creek in Allegany County, New York. It was one of the creeks on which, according to a local Seneca historian, Freedom Seekers traveled on the last segment of their journey to Canada.
In what ways might Albright-Knox visitors of all ages add to the MBK Freedom Collage?
Join us in honoring Freedom Seekers who once walked on the same ground on which you stand today. To do so, please complete one, a few, or all the following options:
- Choose one scrap of cloth. Take one safety pin. Attach the scrap of cloth to any area you wish
- Choose a piece of driftwood. Cut a piece of string. Tightly tie the driftwood to any area you wish.
- Choose a chain link. Attach the chain link to any area you choose.
- Choose a Sharpie marker. Find a blank space on the collage or on a piece of driftwood. Write a one-two word expression describing your personal notion of freedom.