“When things die bad they don’t stay in the ground.” Much like Toni Morrison, I tend to my memories like a garden. By hanging the ground on the walls, I am learning how to breathe hope into excavated space. My visual works are raw, like sweat soaked into wood. As a first generation African American, my practice reflects on anecdotes of how I have learned to survive in the rifts of the Bay Area. This idea of rift is inspired by what Homi K. Bhabha, who refers to “third space” as spatial metaphor that represents hierarchal spaces of literature — the margins. The tales I tell are tales about surviving the evils of excavation and poverty. This empty space is where the curse of temporality cannot go. Excavation is what makes these spaces tremble. I forage assemblages and installations out of houseless objects, to pay tribute to my family’s built ground.
My narrative-based pieces require distance from their site specific origins, for only distance can make these margins visible. The bewitched ground I forage is generational space that is running from oblivion. This is more about method, than object. Literary, autobiographical and historical methods that have allowed me to struggle together with my community and fight for “home” in places like East Palo Alto. This is how I embed community experience of erasure and decay into the gallery walls. My process involves writing letters to and from my ancestors to understand how they live on in a thing. They teach me how to forage lovely novel things, out of a worthless creatures. These still lifes give historical richness to a thing, by emphasizing how objects must misbehave to survive. The raw materials in this work include things like: silverwears, frames, photographs, furnitures, tools and most importantly, excavated landscape. Moss seems to grow underneath that which has is homeless and uplifted. When seeds pass away, we musn’t immediately reach into the margins to pick them up but instead, feel what grows.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Hannah Waiters scavenges sculptural memorabilia that speak to her identity: a first-generation African American female fighting the curse of temporality. By creating assemblages from the objects she collects, Waiters preserves and reframes her family histories, and examines the performativity of heirlooms. She is a Master of Fine Arts and MA in Visual and Critical Studies candidate at California College of the Arts.