Studio Magazine

Grandmother's House: The Black Radical Tradition of Collecting Jada-Amina Harvey • Noa Hines • Sebastien Pierre  (click to read full article)

Golden Kitchen Opera

My mom is a chef and my dad is a producer, and their shared love for the arts permeates our home like the oily seaside smell of a saltfish and ackee breakfast. The kitchen and dining room, painted bright yellow, and my dad’s studio are situated in an L-shape, so the dining room is the threshold between their respective zones. This is where our family congregates. Family meals are an architecture of playlists, both music and food. My parents’ music collection is the foundational heartbeat of our home, a score that vibrates the floors and walls and signals the cycles of home life to continue. I wake up cradled by sultry keys and gospel snaps, while Jill Scott crooning “Golden” indicates that I need to do the dishes before I hear my parents’ footsteps near my room. The curry-coconut-spicy-sweet scents of my Grandma Nana’s pepper shrimp and my late grandmother Elaine's waffles, crab cakes, eggs sizzling in oil, and butter melting onto grits is the transnational buffet of Black breakfast aromas. It dances with the soulful sounds, seeping through the cracks between the doors and the walls. All of this comes together like an alarm clock, summoning my siblings and me to the stage that is the dining table.

And though art is present throughout my home, the most sacred forms of curation seem to congregate in and across this kitchen–dining room–studio triangulation. If my home is a traditional art space, the kitchen and the studio are the permanent collection. They are our treasure troves of learning and growth, where we acquire the media and tastes that bolster the existing collection. The dining room is my home’s curatorial mission statement. Our gathering in this space reinforces our love for each other and reaffirms the parts of life we hold sacred. Those parts are our family history, an amalgamation of my Grandma Nana’s massive repository of reggae knowledge, the thousands of vinyls meticulously digitized by my dad, my brother’s sonogram on the same shelf as a photograph of my paternal grandparents in “Spring 1974,” a framed black-and-white of myself as a toddler with a weathering photo of my great-grandmother as a young woman in Jamaica tucked into the corner of the frame. These artifacts create the fabric of the multicultural, multigenerational tapestry that is my home.

Investment in institutionalized art spaces flows through privatized, four-wall enclosures, and as I look across the terraced windows of our mostly Black and elderly co-op, some overflowing with a lifetime’s worth of hoarded material, I can’t help but see a deconstructed and sacred model of exhibition through Black home-building and collecting. We invest in our own home spaces and show glimpses of our own cultural tapestries to exchange love and community through food, music, and art.