“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised and misunderstood.” --Audre Lorde
Four/For Women is an oral history and visual collection of four generations of Black women, of the same lineage, born and raised in the mid-Atlantic region of United States who have long-established ties to Washington, D.C. T. Thompson, visual artist and storyteller and Jessica Rucker, sociologist and community docent have collaborated to bring multiple generations of private memories and personal stories to the public.
Memories are carried in the pores of our being. Both what we choose to and choose not to remember manifests in how we move and show up in the world: in our workplaces, in our homes, in our bedrooms, and every other assigned place we must exist. We have chosen to remember and preserve the stories and lived experiences of four generations of Black women who have longstanding roots in Washington, D. C. and the surrounding metropolitan area. For us, the telling and preservation of oral and visual stories is a form of memorialization that centers and honors the teller and their perspective. This allows the audience to actively bear witness and not merely hear. Our memorialization work broadly centers the stories and experiences of Black women and specifically challenges and reinforces narratives of resilience, resistance, and self-actualization as articulated by the four generations of Black women featured in the oral-visual collection.
Jessica Rucker: “We are all ‘repositories of memory’ and this memory-work allows me to explore and excavate the deeply distressing as well as the deeply exciting life events that have transpired for me and the three generations of Black women in my family born before me. I love reflecting on and drawing parallels between our generation-specific life events. As Black women, we know we are the oral record keepers and custodians of memory, and for me, publicly sharing our stories has been cathartic and emancipatory! I hope our stories arouse personal and historical memory and inspire listeners to take action and dig up the stories they carry within themselves.”Tia Thompson: “As a holder and curator of these audible and visual stories, I’m amazed at the richness of our Black diaspora. One that is thick with complexities, juxtapositions, beauty, and resilience. Four/For women complicates my relationship to assigning resilience to Black bodies and stories. Because resilience is a word that is used to label a people's’ response to systemic oppression and trauma, I negated to see how, when told by the teller, the power is redefined and reclaimed. As an artist, Four/For Women stretches my capacity to absorb and express the Black woman existence and experience.”