How to Build an Altar for the Living by Kaitlyn B. Jones
In March 2021, I sat for breakfast with my 101 year old great-grandmother. As I listened to her hum softly in-between sips of coffee, I began to ask her questions about where she grew up and what brought her joy as a child. I recorded over three hours of audio stories about her life growing up on a small farm in Gonzales, Texas. My favorite story was listening to her explain how she would make chewing gum from the bark of wax trees growing on their land. Though the formative years of her small town life were shaped by The Great Depression and World War II, her strongest memories were of her simple life on the farm.
The photograph within the KC streetcar shelter frame is a still image from How To Build an Altar for the Living, a video project that celebrates Black lineage and oral histories. The five-minute video features the audio clip of my great-grandmother’s chewing gum story and serves as a reminder that death should not be the impetus for celebrating life. Celebrating the seemingly mundane (such as making chewing gum from the bark of a wax tree) gives testament to the limitless possibilities for joy, despite the horrors of the world around us.
Library South Bound
KC Streetcar Shelter
Kaitlyn B. Jones is an interdisciplinary artist and curator committed to using art as a conduit for healing and a seedbed for activism. Through a multimedia artistic lens, she explores themes of Black legacy, lineage and autonomy as it relates to the conscious and unconscious value placed on the histories and multifaceted cultures of the Black Diaspora.
Vimeo Link| https://vimeo.com/545766878
Website | www.kaitbjones.com
Instagram | @kaiteab