I have fought against the fact that I grew up in the south my whole life. I was always trying to hide or run away from the fact that I was from Alabama because of the stereotypes that surround “the deep south.” I hated hearing “Oh you’re from the south, aren’t you?”, followed by bad imitations of southern drawls, colloquialisms (like y’all and yonder), and ignorant questions about my upbringing (like if we know what computers are in the south and if I am still made to hand-pick cotton in my bare feet all summer).
I have only recently been able to come to terms with where I come from well enough to start embracing my southern roots. I have been reflecting on who I am based on the places I’ve been and the people I know. My grandmother was one of the biggest influences in making me who I am. I love her as much as anyone else I know, and she also grew up in the south. I have been noticing that the things I appreciate the most about who she was are her more distinctly southern attributes. The love that I have for who my grandmother was has acted as a bridge to help me realize that I can love my southern heritage without feeling like I am always associating it with the negative aspects of southern culture that I feel other people will always see when they think of the south (confederate hillbillies with no teeth, no intelligence, and no hope of doing anything useful in life).
To get off my soapbox though, I have been making work about my grandmother’s influence on the formation of my identity. The biggest impression she had on me was cooking, and I can’t help but think of food every time I think of her, which is why it is constantly present in anything that I make about her. I have been pulling in other influences as well, though. I am hoping to develop of body of work that addresses my identity as a whole, but I think that my grandmother is a good starting place for now. Here are a couple of the things I have finished over the summer.