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Opening of SOIL, New work by Justin Hardiman Recap

Justin Hardiman, photo by Raven Barnes

Fannie Lou Hamer once said, “this land is drenched in our blood…” but it’s also drenched in our hopes and aspirations. Our dreams and desires. On last Thursday, June 6, during the opening of SOIL, we felt all of that. 

Entrance of Travelers Hotel, photo by Raven Barnes

Jackson native, Justin Hardiman, showcased his second photo exhibition, SOIL, at the Travelers Hotel in Clarksdale, MS.

Curated by Jackson native, Adrienne Domnick.

The opening of SOIL was like coming to a family reunion to see your favorite cousins, great aunts and uncles. With images you could see hung in the halls of your grandparents home illustrating the beauty of Black farmers and the traditions they embody.

The night was electric as folks witnessed themselves, their community, their work, and their culture as art on display. 

The night was an embodiment of what was on the walls. From the locally sourced wines by Young Family Farms, a family owned and operated farm and winery that sits on 20 acres of land, to the deliciously curated menu by Chefs, Enrika Williams and Tysianna Marino, that used vegetables sourced from farmers featured in the exhibition. Through this culinary experience, we were reminded of the significance of our origins both literally and symbolically.

Dorfus Young Jr. with signature wines

SOIL, illustrates the beauty found in farming. Justin’s work showcases the families and individuals who are on the ground here in Mississippi growing crops in The Delta locally and transforming them into catalyst for change in a myriad of ways. 

You see farmers like Pastor Bennie Brown, who’s developing a farm incubator on the land his elders bought through the Swan Lake Association in the 1940s and 50s to ensure that there’s another generation of Black farmers who can learn agricultural traditions and earn a living. 

Pastor Bennie and Justin view "Sacred Ground"

You see Robert Miller II and his son, standing on a fraction of the 1,400-acre Bland Family Farm, which has been in the hands of four generations of Black farmers. His wife, Christi Bland-Miller, now taking up the reigns from her father and grandfather with her family.

Robert Miller II views "Sowing Seeds"

The exhibition felt like coming home and resting after being abroad, as if you were stepping back into the time of your upbringing. With an atmosphere of communal celebration and a menu reflective of the work done on the land SOIL left us wanting to see what we could grow next.

Thank you to everyone that made the opening special. 

Shoutout to Delta Dirt Distillery, America’s only Black-Owned farm to bottle distillery.

Shoutout to Young Family Farms who supplied wine for tasting and for purchase. Thank you to Red Panther Brewing Co. For keeping the beer flowing on tap. SPECIAL thank you to Travelers Hotel for hosting the exhibition and our team in preparation of the exhibition. Thank you to Clarksdale, the people, the land, the culture. Thank you to each and every farmer and community member that opened their lives to us to be photographed and celebrated. 

Thank you to Rootswell, who sponsored the evening and the exhibition, without you we wouldn’t have witnessed the greatness of the people that make up Clarksdale food ecosystem. 

Thank you to each of you that showed up! 

SOIL by Justin Hardiman will remain on view through August 29th. Make your way to Travelers Hotel to feel it for yourself, you won’t regret it. When you go, be sure to scan the QR codes to learn more about the stories of the folks photographed.

SOIL publication by Adrienne Domnick

Tag us @sipptalk, tag @deltarootswell

Reconnect with the SOIL. 

all recap photos by Raven Barnes (@_followtheart)

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