Member Showcase

Long Memory Project Exhibition

In February, at Cedar North farm in Maple City, community elders gathered with community artists—all members of the LGBTQ+ community—to pass down their stories. This day-long listening session led to a pop-up artist residency, where the artists created visual and performing art in response to the stories the elders had shared; stories about the power of the queer community to survive and thrive in spite of homophobia and transphobia.

This is the second iteration of the Long Memory Project, whose mission is to cultivate the passing down of our community’s stories. As Brad Kik, founder of Crosshatch Center for Art and Ecology notes, “these stories are not just the ones considered worthy enough to make headlines and history books, but the small acts of courage, action, good governance and community building—the songs, poems and stories that help us understand where we came from, who we are, and what we envision for our future—both regionally and beyond.”

The work created by the artists will be on view in an exhibition at the CommonGrounds Building (414 E. Eighth Street in Traverse City) from June 8 - July 14, 2024.

The first iteration of the project featured stories from the environmental, peace and justice activist community, and took place in 2018. As they were happening, many of these campaigns received poor coverage in the press, and now risk being lost to time. “We realized that we couldn’t go to Wikipedia or Google searches to get the details right,” said Sam Cooper, a musician born and raised in Traverse City, “the only place we could go is to the elders themselves.”

“There are two important pieces coming together in this project,” explains Brad Kik “First, the value in hearing stories from our elders and passing them down through the generations; second, the magic that happens when we decide to center artists and their process. I’m excited to experience these brand new pieces coming out of our community’s history.”

The elders who shared their stories in this program are Eric Bower, Dan Brink, Diane Brandt, Beth L., Guy Molnar, John Ross, and Bobbie Wasielewski. The artists who have created work in response to the elders are Cyrah Dardas, Quinn Faylor, Jamie John, Elijah Nykamp, Madeline October, Miguel Pedraza, and Lilian Pitser.

The Long Memory Project is a partnership with Up North Pride, MiGen, and Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology. This program is supported by generous community members, Cedar North, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Michigan Arts and Culture Council.

Photo Credit: Voyager Photography