Paintings for Satellites/Lodge 441

Lodge 441/Old School

While researching the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan, I was also looking into the quilt patterns popularly believed to have been used for hidden-in-plain-sight communication in the Underground Railroad. The patterns for the courtyard at the Old School are a combination of American, African and Masonic symbols, like any re-mix they contain the past and the present. Initial paintings investigate the formal geometric qualities of these patterns, and attempt to discover how much a pattern can erode before it’s illegible.

The project is named Lodge 441 after the first Freemason Lodge in the US to admit black members. This initial lodge grew to form a network of master builder societies which were critical safe houses in the Underground Railroad and whose political significance still resonates today. Large and small scale paintings inspired by quilt patterns will be made in sections on or near the actual sites of the African American Cemetery, to mark these contemporary sites as sacred ground.

This project, made for the Old St. Patrick Cathedral School on Mott Street, was commissioned by the New Museum Festival of Ideas 2011.

Research paintings and daily production documentation can be found here