Isabelle Armand Donate to this artist

Glendora: Sing About Me  is a multimedia project comprising a book of analog photography, in situ interviews, and film. Its aim is twofold: to explore the connection between poverty and memory, and to record and preserve memory. Glendora, Mississippi, population one hundred sixty, may be best known for its connection to the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, which ignited the Civil Rights movement. When the FBI reopened the investigation in July 2018, after a key witness recanted her testimony, the marker commemorating the teenager’s death was riddled with bullets. Although the town erected a small museum in Till’s honor, Glendora has become a memory desert and in that sense may be seen as emblematic of the plight of African-American rural communities. Skills and ways of survival have fallen into oblivion as the jobs dwindled. The transmission of individual and collective memories within families and communities seems to have withered under duress. Even elders living in the same area for generations have few recollections beyond their own parents.

During previous work in Mississippi, I noticed that families passed little down in way of verbal and pictorial transmission. For example, while interviewing a woman in her 80s, I found out her own mother was a full blood Cherokee. Her children didn’t know that, nor that Cherokees relatives were working on the plantation where she was growing up.

This led me to explore how the stress of poverty impacts the conveyance of memories from generation to generation, and to document a transmission so significant to America’s history. Resting on testimonies and images, both film and book lay bare the inexorable web of generational poverty and its profound impact. Neuroscience research on poverty trauma, intensified by racial bias, show that when brain capacity is used up on survival issues, there isn’t much bandwidth for anything else.