The Historic Jarvisburg Colored School and Currituck County Department of Travel and Tourism recently received funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council and Pratt Institute in New York to collaborate with Lisa Bateman, artist and NC native, to begin phase one of the art and community engagement project Songlines.
Songlines is an audio artwork using historic folk songs inspired by alumni of the Historic Jarvisburg Colored School. Phase one of the project will record local songs ‘sung’ by alumni descendants and local children in May-June 2019. Phase two, in 2020-21, will place the audio recordings in hidden locations surrounding the exterior of the school, as an outdoor audio soundscape that will enhance the interior exhibition displays.
The project is Inspired by oral histories that Bateman collected from alumni in 2013-2019. During these years, Bateman met with the community and the school’s Board of Directors to discuss a potential art installation. In planning the project, Bateman observed that many alumni histories included play and work songs that were sung during recess, while missing school to pick cotton and plant potatoes and on long walks to school in the mornings.
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. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features a museum with informative historical displays, classroom replica, artifacts, and guest reception area. The museum is open Wednesdays – Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.