Praise House Project
Standing on Hallowed Ground
A multimedia site-specific installation by visual artist activist, Charmaine Minniefield to honor the African American history in communities.
The Praise House Project receives the prestigeous National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant for 2022.
Support the Praise House Project today.
DeKalb History Center
In honor of the centennial celebraiton of the county, 2022
Academic Year 2023-2024
The Ring Shout is a traditional African American worship and gathering practice with origins in West African traditional ceremony. The Ring Shout was reborn during enslavement in the American South in resistance to laws which prohibited those enslaved from gathering, except for worship, and forbid many forms of cultural expression, including drumming. These laws were imposed in an effort to systematically erase cultural identity, discourage communication, and ultimately dismantle community.
In response, those enslaved created Praise Houses—small usually wooden structures (barns or shacks) used for worship throughout the Southeast. As an act of resistance, congregants would gather in circle to stomp or shout (full body rhythmic movement) upon the wooden floors, creating a communal drum—secretly preserving their cultural identities. asserting their collective prayers and affirming their indigenous traditions. These small hidden worship spaces are thought to have beeen precursors to the first Black churches in the Western world.
The Praise House Project
celebrates the endurance of these traditions in contemporary dance, music, and spoken and written word as testament to the resilience of a people and inspiration for freedom today. The work takes the form of public art as site-specific installations of a replicas of a praise houses which honor the African-American history of the communities in which they reside.
Blacks had grown tired of the disrespect they were forced to endure in order to bury their family members and friends. They had to enter cemeteries through back gates, and even wade through swamps to conduct funeral services. They were told “If you don’t’ like it, start your own cemetery.” And so they did.
Download the song: Rite to Freedom
By vocalist Malesha Jessie Taylor and musician Salah Ananse as the group, We Are Djeli (griot), this song was recorded within the santuary of historic First Congregational Church as the sound score for the Praise House Project, which premiered at Oakland Cemetary, presented by Flux Projects in 2021.
Buy the song today. Your purchase will support the Praise House Project and its causes.
Kimberly Binns, Video Collage
Opal Moore, Essey and forethcoming Anthology
Malesha Jessie Taylor and Salah Ananse as We Are Djeli, Musical Score
Santiago Paramo, Sound Installation
Muthi Reid, Soundscape
Julie B. Johnson, Dance
Toni Blackman, Spoken Word
Historic South-View Preservation Foundation, the New Freedom Project, Flux Projects and Culture Centers International.