Ifé Franklin’s Indigo Project infuses multiple art practices to honor the lives, histories, cultures, and traditions of African people throughout the diaspora, with a concentration on the formerly enslaved of North America.
Revere Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Inclusion Dr. Lourenço Garcia is proud to welcome Ifé, a local artist and filmmaker, to RPS to close out the schools’ month-long celebration of Black History Month.
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., RPS will host a special Black History Month event with Ifé at Revere High School’s Learning Common and celebrate this year’s Black History Month theme, African Americans and the Arts. Watch the promo video for the event here.
Registration will begin at 5 p.m. with an authentic taste of Jamaica provided by the Makin' Jamaican food truck. After registration and reception, Ifé's program will begin promptly at 6 p.m.
During the event, Ifé will show her powerful film, The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae, a fictional account of Willie Mae Lenox’s escape from slavery to freedom. The work was adapted into a short film in 2021.
The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae is the story of Willie Mae Lenox, a 20-year-old black woman enslaved in Virginia in the mid 1800’s, who sets upon her journey to freedom, assisted by family, abolitionists, African traditions, love, courage and determination.
According to Ifé, the short film invites audiences into Willie Mae’s environment, creating connection and intimacy for those who lived their lives in chattel slavery. This story represents the transformation of the enslaved into freedom seekers on the path to liberation.
Following the film, Ifé, Dr. Garcia and RHS students will host a discussion with the community about the film, its impacts and the struggles that continue today for the BIPOC communities across the country.
Ifé will close out the event by inviting attendees to participate in a Ring Shout dance. The Ring Shout was practiced by slaves as a religious activity, with Christianity augmenting the African elements. Participants moved in a circle, providing rhythm by clapping their hands and patting their feet. One individual would set the tempo by singing, and his lines would be answered in call-and-response fashion. In some cases, another individual rhythmically beats the (usually wooden) floor with a broomstick or other piece of wood.
“I'm a local Boston artist, and I was asked to come to your school for Black History Month to bring my film, The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae, with a Q&A with your wonderful Dr. Garcia and to introduce you to a Ring Shout, a collective dance with stomping and shuffling of feet and clapping of hands that enslaved Africans brought with them here to the States,” said Ifé. “The Ring Shout is a dance that incorporates love, resistance and togetherness. It was something that was practiced to celebrate joy.”
Ifé continued, “So I'm inviting you to come here (Revere High School) and celebrate with us from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on February 28. I hope to see you here! Peace and love.”
Ifé’s Indigo Project utilizes many genres of art-making as pathways to connect the past, present, and future. Ifé's project often invites the community to participate in profoundly reflective activities that include and are not limited to songs, movement, creative writing/spoken word, adire fabric dying, performances, instillations, burial site processionals and miniature slave cabin building workshops.
Ifé calls her project a homecoming, a healing balm and resting place for the souls of the enslaved, that ultimately centers on love, respect, joy and remembering.
About the Artist
Ifé’s work has been exhibited at The Slave Dwellings Project in South Carolina, the North Charleston Arts Festival, and throughout the Boston area, including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Medicine Wheel Productions, Villa Victoria, The Eliot School of Applied Arts, Franklin Park, and the Royall House and Slave Quarters.
Ifé’s work is in the permanent collections of the Fitchburg Museum of Art, Fitchburg, MA, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C. Originally from Washington, D.C., Franklin graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She lives and works in Roxbury, Massachusetts.