A self-described “griot”—a keeper and transmitter of the genealogies of a people—Los Angeles–based textile artist Karen Hampton employs historical memory drawn from the stories of her family to shed new light on the colonial past. Her work, which uses new and traditional techniques and materials, also draws from her own experiences as a person of African, Caribbean, and American descent and explores the essence of her being through cloth as her medium of choice. Touching on issues of displacement and transience, Hampton uses both needle and loom to create works embedded with references to her ancestral heritage.
The Journey North features new work that examines the mythology of freedom through multiple narratives from the lives of the artist’s ancestors, which trace their migrations north from the Caribbean, Florida, and a Maryland plantation. Through installations of woven, stitched, and digitally printed imagery, Hampton narrates the internal struggles that accompanied her ancestors’ diaspora and points to a broader struggle with identity felt in America today.