The Dresser Trunk Project

The Dresser Trunk Project is the recovery of lost stories, memories, and places of refuge for travelling black musicians playing in the Chitlin̢۪ Circuit during segregation. Inspired by the Cornell boxes, 11 participants designed trunks that each tells the story of a place of refuge in an era of segregation. This place may be a hotel, a residence, a club, a section of a train station or even a Negro League baseball park. The stories will include who passed through and how their experiences at that location may have influenced culture and music. All places are located in a city served by the Southern Crescent Line.

Eleven cities have been identified from New York to New Orleans. For each city, a dresser trunk was designed similar to those used by musicians on their travels. The trunks contain stories, photographs, maps, hotel registers, and images of the way places looked during their travels and speculations on their future. The trunks are planned to tour each of the eleven sites by train, as well as be exhibited in an Amtrak train car. Before the exhibition gets on its trail, it will be exhibited in Extension.

The Dresser Trunk Project is significant in its preservation of a unique cultural heritage that is being lost to the ravages of time and the pressures of development. It strives to link isolated places together in a chain that gives each their rightful place in architectural, music and cultural history.

Participants include Felecia Davis, Yolande Daniels, William Daryl Williams, Lisa Henry-Benham, Mabel Wilson, Mario Gooden, David Brown, Craig Barton, Scott Ruff, Nat Belcher and Walter Hood. The exhibit has traveled to the Extension Gallery for Architecture in Chicago, and the UVa Art Museum in Charlottesville. The DTP will be on display at Howard University during the annual NOMA convention, and at the University of Pennsylvania, November 10th-21st.


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