WATER & OIL is an intimate reflection of the risk experienced in the Back of the Yard’s neighborhood. As we walk the streets we are reminded of the violence, the lives taken, and the families destroyed. The remnants are visible throughout, continually reminding me of those who are no longer with us but are around us. Their presence is felt in the parks, the alleys, the roads, and the walkways. Sadly, as I gaze at their belongings, I see through their eyes, I feel their pain, and I see their truth. As I pass these memorials, I feel what is happening to my people. I feel as if it happened to my family. I feel as if it can happen to me.
My adolescence and adulthood have been greatly affected by a loved one’s involvement in gangs. This forever changed my perspective to the violence around me. I confront these realities regularly. I live in fear that one day a deflated balloon on a tree, a forgotten photo on a wall, or the abandoned flower on the street will commemorate someone I love; commemorate me. I worry we will fall victim to the mayhem, not only leaving behind an irreversible void in our community but also a deep wound in our hearts.
With this in mind, I honor the locations and belongings that are with me as I walk through the Yards. I reference the sky, the trees, the walls, the fences, and the sidewalks that surround me on my journey. I carry my most cherished possessions, my clothing, souvenirs, and family photographs with me. Replicating them provides me with comfort, as I accepted the fact that death could be waiting at any corner. I engage in the process of equanimity as a means to strengthen myself, comprehending the paths I take every day, are where many have lost their lives. I realize our existence is extremely fragile and can be taken away at any moment.