Rituals in Communities is an explorative digital exhibition that portrays how communities can be formed through social activities that are specific to their culture. This project acknowledges and sheds light on the key physical actions of liturgical dance that black individuals do together in a private community. By memorializing this tradition in my community, I am able to create a digital heritage for people to look back upon. The social activity that is the content of the site contains my artwork, footprints in the sand (2023), a 60” x 10 yard long ink drawing that was conducted with my dance ministry from my hometown, Baltimore, Maryland.

footprints in the sand was created in an ethnographic, documentative style using Yupo paper. This non-absorbent plastic opaque paper, allows the oils that touch the paper to stay intact, building up layers of oil over a prolonged period of time. The dancers in collaboration with this project, danced with their bare feet on the blank paper over multiple practice sessions. After collecting marks, the ink comes into contact with the paper causing the oil to resist and create a universe of abstract marks from the physical traces. In response to the surface generated by this group, I swiped ink across the paper using my feet as a brush, mirroring the choreography. By representing a community through such gestures, it became a representation of my perspective as a black individual interpreting the way I see communities I have interacted with.

Learning new ways to utilize frameworks and coding skills was a huge endeavor. By digitizing this artwork that acts as a cultural object and documentation of a ritual, it also acts as a moment of preservation and communication to a group in an abstract visual language. Working on the content (art) of the website and having to build the website showed me that there is just as much work required in coding development as there is in my studio practice. By connecting these two platforms, I feel I have broadened the boundaries of accessibility in the fine art realm. Similar to museum websites that allow for deep zooming of artworks, my project takes it a step forward in invoking a narrative alongside the work, mimicking the way it should be viewed in a gallery setting. With integrating Storiiies derived from International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) this is definitely an attainable process for institutions to support their artists in larger scale projects containing multilayered context/content.

Integrating digital aspects to my artwork is one of the many avenues I will continue to explore. Rituals in Communities will eventually house future collaborations of work as my thesis continues. Thank you CHI Fellowship for this opportunity!