“James Mincey’s headstone”
cast concrete with radio embedded
Fort Pierce, Florida

Slideshow of Florida Burial Shrines (link opens in new window)
[*Note: to see multiple burial site locations, click the small grid at the lower left menu bar]

1988 was an exceptional year in my life. I had recently relocated to Fort Pierce, Florida (where I had already lived a number of years) after living in Miami for almost ten years. I was not content to sit back and watch an indeed rich local heritage titter-totter with its own self recognition. I became involved with the County Historical Museum and a group of educators in the community for a multi-discplinary activity involving a S.I.T.E.S. exhibition from the Smithsonian, a performance of the Harambee Singers, and a literary symposium on the Harlem Renaissance. I worked with the local community helping with its arts festival for a second year, but was inspired to work on my own agenda as well.

I had taken a long hiatus in my artmaking and had recently begun to re-immerse myself in that creative process. One of the things I had done was photograph interesting sights in the local cemeteries, something I had been doing since the 1960’s, but Ft. Pierce would prove to be significantly different.

Months before the 1988 Black Arts Festival had taken place, I had initiated a symposium at the Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, Fl, with funding from Florida Humanities Council. In retrospect, I think it was a bold idea to want Dr. Robert F. Thompson for keynote speaker, and since I hadn’t really thought of an alternate, it was quite fortunate that he was able to make the engagement.

After the lecture on the way back to the airport I showed him the photograph that now appears in the catalogue, “Face of the Gods: Art and Altars in the African Americas”. He was totally ecstatic and suggested that I make it the beginning point for a complete project.

Naturally, I thought it was a very interesting idea, but I was not able to start on it until much later. I was restricted by the enormity of the financial costs of the project. The amount of time was relatively short but the transportation, film and paper processing really put a dent in my finances. Actually, it had prevented me from continuing to work on the project. I have sought out funding from the Florida Humanities Council but, local humanities funding is available to organizations only. On the national level, without being a Ph.D. scholar, and fitting into a clearly definable funding category, financing has not materialized.

[Additional Reading: Face of the Gods: Afro-amerikische Altare]