Mama’s Babies

L1140284

A series of multimedia installations exploring Black matriarchy in America.

Mama’s Babies started as a way to document and look deeper into my family history, developed out of a need to preserve that history as I watched it disappear. Over time, it became a personal archive and a dialog between past and future. My grandmother, Threater Smith, gave birth to 16 children, of which 7 now survive. She is a deep well of stories, though I know there are some she would rather forget. Through interviews with her and other family members, portraiture and archival materials, I set out to trace my family’s journey from Louisiana to Oakland, from slavery, through the Great Migration, the crack era and the current displacement of Black folks in Oakland via gentrification. I wanted to understand the gravity while capturing the quotidian and making space for joy.