Everything That Rises

The Everything That Rises series (2014–15) pictures two types of sites in New Jersey: former Underground Railroad safe houses and locations where race riots have erupted. Although riots and the Underground Railroad may initially seem diametrically opposed—people in conflict versus working cooperatively—both can also be seen as acts of rebellion that mark instances of rupture and change. The intimately scaled paper collages in this series depict what are today hair salons, abandoned buildings, boutique shops, empty fields—the kinds of places you pass by without noticing. With a quiet eeriness and subtle psychological charge, Everything That Rises speaks to the ways we remember—and forget—the charged events of our country’s turbulent racial history.

The title of the series is taken from Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” Set in the South shortly after the desegregation of the public transportation system, the story describes an interracial encounter on a bus and the altercation that ensues. Collages depicting riot sites are titled by excerpts from newspaper articles published at the time; those of Underground Railroad safe houses are untitled but identified parenthetically by the town in which the site is located.