Ethnographic Documentaries as Poetry

A traditional documentary travels the arc of a narrative by following chronological events from chapter to chapter. The Visual Poem is anthropologist Marlon Hall's ethnographic style of moving from stanza to stanza more like a sonnet drawn by the heartbeat of the people.

By The Greenwood Art Project

"When I read a poem I don't have more information, I have a new experience"
- Eugene H. Petterson

Information is important to healing through storytelling but experiences are essential. Poetry has a way of approaching painful experiences with a contoured listening for the human experience rather than just listening to dates and accounts of information. The following visual poetry is a way for the G.A.P. to tell the stories of the artists who are a part of the project's work to engage art as therapy.

Therese Smiles, Marlon Hall, 2020, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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A Visual Poem for Therese Aduni

"The ancestors have something to say to us." - Therese Aduni

TheRese NineThe Greenwood Art Project

The Ancestors Spoke

In the age of a virus, we met Therese Aduni on her porch for a socially distanced filming. She talked about her Greenwood Art Project that is medicine for the soul of the Greenwood community.

The Fan (2020) by Marlon HallThe Greenwood Art Project

While waving this fan she told the story of being led by her ancestors to the attic of her father's home. There she discovered an old film reel that felt important in her hands.

Cornered Bench (2020) by Marlon F. HallThe Greenwood Art Project

She later learned that the footage captured the life of Greenwood citizens who were rebuilding after the massacre of 1921. The spirit of what Booker T. Washington called Black Wall Street is a fireproof force that cannot be burned.

Porch Readings (2020) by Marlon HallThe Greenwood Art Project

While reviewing the film for the first time, she received an inclination to write down messages she was receiving from a familiar yet spiritually lofty place. Her ancestors wanted to send a message through her to the world and her project is their voice. 

Therese Smiles (2020) by Marlon HallThe Greenwood Art Project

Our time with her ended with a prayer that left us all glowing. We filmed more than just the story of her work. We filmed a seance of the promise made present in the Greenwood community in the form of a beautifully strong woman.

A Visual Poem for Therese Aduni, Marlon F. Hall, 2020-06-17, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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“and then you realize that you have to rebuild a life out of this. My work came from my life process which was rebuilding life out of this destruction.” - Sarah Ahmad

Seeing and Being Seen (2020) by Marlon HallThe Greenwood Art Project

Self-Reflection

Sarah Ahmad is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work is a constant source of self-reflection. She creates healing for others as she creates healing for herself.

Sarah Ahmad has been featured in exhibitions, galleries, and cultural centers throughout the United States and the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan. Sarah Ahmad is a Greenwood Project artist whose art is a constant source of self-reflection for her. She creates healing for others as she creates healing for herself.

Home Light, Brian Ellison, 2020, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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Sarah Flakes, Marlon Hall, 2020, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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Sara Paint, Marlon Hall, 2020, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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Sarah uses all sorts of materials for her work. While in her studio we were struck by how the materials themselves look sculptural. Both her art and the organization of her materials are art.

This film is poetically dedicated to the art, life, and work of Sarah Ahmad. She is a healed healer who exhumes possibility from pain. She explores what it means to create a space for oneself in the world; it encompasses themes of migration, displacement, belonging, and life rebuilding.

A Visual Poem for Sarah Ahmad, Marlon F. Hall, 2020-07-14, From the collection of: The Greenwood Art Project
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trilogy (2020) by Marlon HallThe Greenwood Art Project

Destruction to Renewal

Organic shapes from nature drive the compositions in Sarah's work. She is a creator with a heart for making new beauty from deconstructed materials. 

Credits: Story

Director: Marlon F. Hall
Director of Photography: Brian Ellison
Produced by Shelly Travis
Curated and Written by Marlon F. Hall

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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