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In Conditions of Fresh Water: An Artistic Exploration of Environmental Racism  


The story of water is a story of place, race, and power. Water shapes the conditions of places where we live, grow, and change. Power shapes the contours of place. Race is a metaphor for power. 


In Conditions of Fresh Water tells the story of water up close, through the lived experiences of black folks from post-Bellum communities in Alamance County, NC and Lowndes County, AL, and at a distance, through the abstract representations of the infrastructure and architecture that they navigate, negotiate, and transform. 

In the summer of 2016, I traveled with visual artist Torkwase Dyson  to Alamance and Lowndes Counties with Studio South Zero (SSZ), a 6’x8’x12' mobile solar-powered artist workspace built by Dyson with recycled materials. We partnered with community development organizations at both sites—the West End Revitalization Association (Alamance County) and the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (Lowndes County).


SSZ served as a black-within-black place, a living room where people gathered, lent a hand, asked questions and offered their memories of everyday life and change in these communities, covering at least seven decades. 


This multimedia project reflects our responses to their encounters with these places and the power—black and white—that continues to shape them. 



Alamance County (NC)


Evon Connally, White Level

Sylvia Daye, East End

Virginia Douglas, Hawfields

Rylanda Ellerbe, West End

Vanessa D. Foust, West End

Eleanor Graves, West End

Harlece Graves Jeffries, West End

Rémi Graves, West End

Mary F. McClennis, West End

Carolyn Poteat, Cheeks’ Cross

Leslie Williamson, West End

Ayo Wilson, West End

Brenda Wilson, West End

George Wilson, Hawfields

Omari Wilson, West End

Omega Wilson, West End



Lowndes County (AL)


Beatrice Anderson, White Hall

Tamalyn Berry, White Hall

Catherine Coleman Flowers, Black Belt

Keon Dudley, White Hall

John Mays, White Hall

Mary L. McReynolds, White Hall

William M. Patterson, White Hall

Neamon Rudolph, White Hall

Ruby Rudolph, White Hall

Aaron Jay Thigpen, Fort Deposit

Ben White, White Hall

Lyndon F. White, White Hall

William T. White, White Hall

Dyson's Studio South Zero in Alamance County. Photo by Danielle Purifoy

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