Calling Our Ancestors

The historical stronghold of our ancestral fortitude provides the backdrop on which we often lean. Our ancestors’ labor, heartache, rich culture, traditions and unwavering strength created the foundation upon which we stand. When we call on our ancestors it’s to bring to the present the collective victory that can help us in the face of challenges. 

“If we stand tall it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors.”

– African Proverb

As denoted by the title, the woman’s tradition dress invokes her ancestors’ presence, seeking guidance to contend with present-day challenges. Her hands are adorned with beads and rings, and her body is decorated with vibrant jewelry and a headscarf. Her face is painted with vivid streaks and framed with a kitenge mask. The dynamic forms of color sit in contrast to the crisp white fabric and stark “Black Lives Matter” lettering printed on her arm. She strikes a strong pose to the rhythm of the drums, evoking the ceremonial gravity of a community uniting with purpose. Even as new generations lead the movement, the community calls upon their ancestors to pilot their fight for Black Lives Matter.

Amir Leung-Tat, Calling Our Ancestors, 2020. Digital Photograph. ©Amir Leung-Tat. All rights reserved.

Amir Leung-Tat

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Ubuntu is a exhibition of the photography of Amir Leung-Tat. An interpretation of the Nguni term which means "I am because we are" and associated African philosophy which promotes the interconnectedness of humanity, Leung-Tat's work represents a poignant exploration of the vast totality of the black experience through the eyes of an artist coming of age. Shot during his time in Keyna, as well as during the 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Boston, MA, his work captures the enduring connections and similarities that override geographical differences. Despite the forced separation of Black bodies from their homeland, there is a vibrant energy and resolve to overcome obstacles and a singularity of spirit that remains connected across time and space.

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