Karen Hampton, We Will Never Forget, 2017
We Will Never Forget was made in 2017 during a residency, a year-long residency at Michigan State University. I went there with the intention of working on new works that were about the Flint water crisis and its effects on women and children. So during that time, I was heavily ensconced in Flint history and Michigan history. My students were my assistants, and we were taking many trips there, and right in the middle of it all was when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and I was devastated.
I could not believe the President’s response to the devastation on the Island. Looking at the news footage was just so sad to my heart. I found myself talking about it every day in class. And what I did was that I felt like it was time that I needed to do some work for Puerto Rico because I needed the Puerto Rican voice to be amplified. I needed them to know that even though our government was the shits and was not giving them any support that we in the diaspora knew and saw them and that we were sending our energies and using our DNA to push and to amplify their voices.
I was thinking a lot about ancestors and ancients, which is something that’s common in my work. I was thinking about that aspect of historical memory and trauma memory and the memory that is all inside each one of us in our DNA and really wanted to use my power as an artist to help push and help amplify their voices. The piece is really about that amplification. It’s about that we will never forget. We will never forget, and I am invoking in that piece, that other piece of resilience, which is that Puerto Rico will come back stronger than ever, and really putting that energy into the universe.