Art, Music, History combine on Juneteenth in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery

Flux Projects has added a musical contribution by We Are Djeli to “Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives,” Charmaine Minniefield’s art and history project in Atlanta’s Historic Oakland Cemetery. Recording at First Congregational Church, Malesha Jessie Taylor and Salah Ananse, collectively known as We Are Djeli, have created a soundtrack that expands on the Black Church traditional song forms of Metered/Lined Hymns and the Ring Shout.  

The word djeli, (French) is also translated as Griot, and Ananse and Taylor intentionally create work that centers the sacred rites of Black and African musical traditions, signifying the cultural role of African Djeli’s who are cultural guardians and devotional musicians in the West African tradition.  The two artists have worked with Minniefield before in earlier iterations of “Remembrance as Resistance” within the Studioplex Water Tower for her mural groundbreaking, “Prayer Circle for Freedom,” in the historic Auburn District.    

Flux Projects presents “Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives” as a site specific, public art project, running from Juneteenth, Saturday, June 19 through July 11. 

Juneteenth at Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery

“Remembrance as Resistance” honors the over 800 unmarked graves in the African American Burial Grounds of Atlanta’s Historic Oakland Cemetery. Some graves originally may have been marked with wooden or natural markers that did not stand the test of time, and some markers may have been lost when African-American remains were moved from their original resting place in Slave Square to Potter’s Field (a portion later renamed the African American Burial Grounds) to make space for the graves of white citizens.   

Minniefield presents her work to remember these 800+ individuals as a resistance to their stories being erased. In doing so, her project takes the form of a multi-media Ring Shout, a traditional African-American worship and gathering practice. From roots in West Africa the Ring Shout was reborn during slavery in the American South as a way of preserving cultural rituals and traditions as well as recreating community. Minniefield traces the endurance of these traditions, finding evidence of their influence in contemporary dance, music, and spoken word.   

The artists of We Are Djeli 

Malesha Jessie Taylor
Malesha Jessie Taylor

Malesha Jessie Taylor is a transdisciplinary vocal artist whose work can be found in opera, church music, experimental installations, African diasporic ritual, yoga and dance music.  

Recent projects include an original composition to accompany TIME Magazine featured artist, Charly Palmer entitled, “Becoming,” which will exhibit at Hammond House Museum this Spring/Summer 2021.  Her TEDx talk entitled, “What Do You See?” is a part of her developing auto-ethnography Transcending Performance: Exploring Black Liberatory Praxis in Vocal Arts (in-progress).

She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Scripps College and Spelman College, and currently teaches bi-coastal at Clark Atlanta University and California State University, San Marcos.  In addition, Taylor is the Founder of museSalon Collaborative, a 501c3 arts services organization. 

For more information about Taylor, visit her website at: www.musesalon.org

Salah Ananse

Salah Ananse has over 20 years as a producer and DJ and is the Founder of the biggest outdoor dance party, Atlanta Weekender/ House in the Park. Ananse has worked with Vikter Duplaix, DJ Kemit (Kemeticjust), Rich Medina, Brother Questlove and Kai Alce.  e has also held opening DJ spots for artists such as Dave Chappelle, India Arie, Joi, Res, Fertile Ground, Dwele, Les Nubialns, Musiq, The Roots, Donnie and Raphael Saadiq. 

Recently Salah Ananse has emerged in the dance music genre as a new force. His rhythmic instrumentation and smooth layered vocals make his sound unique and distinguishable among the rest. His duo with Malesha Jessie Taylor, We are Djeli, released their first EP in 2019 entitled, “She’s Coming.” 

For more information about, Salah Ananse, visit his website at:  www.salahananse.com

Historic Oakland Cemetery

“Remembrance as Resistance” is presented in collaboration with Historic Oakland Foundation and the City of Atlanta.  The project is accompanied by a free digital tour experience developed by Historic Oakland Foundation in partnership with Flux Projects, Charmaine Minniefield, and the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. Historic Oakland Foundation will also offer free tours of the African American Burial Grounds during the run of the project.  More information is available at www.oaklandcemetery.com

Virtual programs from 2020 are available to view on the Flux Projects website

About Charmaine Minniefield  

The work of artist-activist Charmaine Minniefield preserves Black narratives as a radical act of social justice. Firmly rooted in womanist social theory and ancestral veneration, her work draws from indigenous traditions as seen throughout Africa and the Diaspora, to explore African and African-American history, memory and ritual as an intentional push back against erasure.  Her creative practice is community-based as her research and resulting bodies of work often draw from physical archives as she excavates the stories of African-American women-led resistance, spirituality and power. 

Minniefield’s recent public works, which include projection mapping and site-specific installation, insight dialogue around race, class and power. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, she incorporates other art forms to virtually bridge the past to the present.  Minniefield recently returned to Atlanta after her unexpected and self-initiated artist residency in The Gambia, where due to COVID she was forced to remain for over eight months. She used this time to explore the origins of her cultural identity and the Ring Shout. 

Minniefield’s work is featured in a number of public and private collections, and as a muralist, her walls can be seen throughout the City of Atlanta and beyond. She was honored by Mercedes Benz as a part of their Greatness Lives Here campaign. She and her recent mural in Brooklyn, depicting women who shaped the future, is featured in the 2020 US Census commercial. Minniefield recently served as the Stuart A. Rose Library artist-in-residence at Emory through a collaboration with Flux Projects. 

About Flux Projects 

Flux Projects produces temporary public art projects that connect and grow artists and audiences in Atlanta through the creative power of place. They support artists to take risks and grow their practices whether they are internationally acclaimed or producing their first public work. They create communal spaces for people of all walks of life. And they bring a location’s past, present and future into conversation in ways that open our eyes to new possibilities. Flux Projects gives art the space to transform.

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