‘Songlines’ will tell audio story of historic school in Jarvisburg

By on May 19, 2019

The Historic Jarvisburg Colored School in Currituck County recently received funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council and Pratt Institute in New York to collaborate with artist Lisa Bateman to begin phase one of the art and community engagement project Songlines this summer.

Songlines is an audio artwork using historic folksongs inspired by alumni of the school.

Throughout May and June, phase one of the project will record local songs sung by alumni descendants and local Currituck children.

Phase two of Songlines (2020-21) will place the audio recordings in hidden locations surrounding the exterior of the school, as an outdoor audio “soundscape” that will illuminate and enhance the interior exhibition displays.

The project is inspired by oral histories that Bateman collected from alumni from 2013-2019. Throughout these years, Bateman met with the community and the school’s Board of Directors to discuss a potential art installation, and the community art project was born.

The Historic Jarvisburg Colored School completed their renovation, exhibition displays, and guest reception house after many years of private fundraising and recent site support from Currituck County.

The restored schoolhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (2009), and officially opened to the public as a museum in 2016.

In planning the project, Bateman observed that many alumni histories included play and work songs, which were sung during recess, while missing school to pick cotton, plant potatoes, and on long walks to school in the mornings.

The decision was made to utilize sound as the art component in the project.

Bateman completed her BFA at East Carolina University and her MFA at VCU in Richmond, Va. She is currently a professor in Fine Arts at Pratt Institute in New York. Bateman specializes in site-specific art, public art, and community engagement.

The Historic Jarvisburg Colored School (c.1868) moved to its current site in 1911, and is one of the oldest standing African American schoolhouses in North Carolina.

The museum is open Wednesdays – Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

All Invited
Hear more about the ‘Songlines’ project and help participate in its’ evolution on Monday, May 20th at 6:30 p.m., at the Historic Jarvisburg Colored School, 7300 Caratoke Hwy, Jarvisburg, NC 27947.

For more information, call 252-491-2409 or email SonglinesJarvisburg@gmail.com

Founded in 1972, the North Carolina Humanities Council is a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the United States’ National Endowment for the Humanities. Through its programs, partnerships, and scholarships, the Council preserves and shares the stories that bring North Carolina’s culture to life, and enrich the lives of residents across the state.

Founded in 1887, the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, is an international university in higher education, dedicated to preparing its students to become global leaders with successful careers in art, design, architecture, liberal arts, and sciences.


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