INSTALLATION AT THE Tangipahoa African American Museum

Hammond, LA | 2006

The installation at the Tangipahoa African American museum is made up of three acrylic paintings that act as magical time portals showing various pieces of African history.

 

"African Family Life" is a culturally-unique portayal of life within a traditional African village. Inspired by images of Ghanaian compounds, Akinlana represented the African tradition of living and working together which has sustained family life for centuries. If you were to visit the Tangipahoa African American museum, upon seeing this piece, you would first see an image of a wife, husband, and child. As you were transported through this magical window back in time, you would then see a meeting of village chiefs, elders, and men. Then you would be drawn into images of women at work, caring for their children and preparing the delicious meal that would nourish the village.

Moving forward, you would then confront "Horrors of the Middle Passage," which depicts the horrific trials experienced by African peoples during the trans-Atlantic journey from Africa to the Caribbean and North, Central, and South America. Some historians estimate that over 100 million African peoples were forcibly brought to the Americas, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East and enslaved as part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The ships used to transport enslaved peoples were overcrowded vessels of disease, torture, rape, hunger, death, and filthy confinement. Many freedom-seeking captives like the woman in this painting chose certain death and jumped into shark-infested waters rather than continue be subjected to the abusive journey. Others made the brave decision to mutiny and engage their captors in bloody combat for a chance at freedom. Many died and many survived but the horrors of the Middle Passage have branded the psyche of enslaved Africans and their displaced descendants to this very day.

Finally, you are transported to the final piece in the series, "Great Monuments of Africa." A contrast from the horror-filled pictures of the previous piece, "Great Monuments" shows African culture at its peak of ingenuity. It is a testament to the great inventions of African peoples, including the pyramids designed by Imhotep.

These panels were commissioned by the Museum.