This essay compares two photographs that depict two pairs of Black women. The first image is undated with subjects not identified; the second image features the late artist/architect Amaza Lee Meredith and her partner, the late educator Dr. Edna Meade Colson. As part of a reflection on travel, love, and intimacy, each photograph serves as a conduit for reckoning with the complexity of a Black southern female subjectivity, one in which queer romance and desire might be centered. Both images prompt reflection on lives lived, in some ways, beyond the legibility of normative expectations.
Conversation with portrait artists Amy Sherald and Deborah Roberts.
Personal reflection, oral history excerpts, a “runaway slave” advertisement, and descriptions of land through a womanist lens all weave together to demonstrate a modality Lanier names “Womanist Cartography.” Using the tools of memoir, folklore, and experimental prose, Lanier invites readers to re-engage the notions of southern land through the lives, dreams, and minds of Black women. The inclusion of multi-modal artist Allison Janae Hamilton’s photography further amplifies these counter-cartographic concepts. In the wake of contemporary cataclysms around southern monuments and place-making, based on traditional hegemonies, this essay presents alternative narratives for what and where is deemed sacred in the American South, and by whom.