Continental Divide: Dom Smith


My mother’s first memories of music came from listening to the yellow-bus radio on her morning rides to Carver Elementary. In 1971 at age 9, she was one of 40,000 students taking part in a county-wide effort to desegregate public schools in Columbus, Georgia. She was taken to an all black school which due to restricted funding lacked air conditioning, was poorly maintained and consisted of a network of outdoor classrooms connected by covered walkways.

Muscogee county implemented a “busing” program by which white and black students would be taken from their neighborhoods to new schools so as to create more diverse student bodies. It took Muscogee County 17 years and a court order to desegregate its schools. My mother and I were born 24 years apart, and neither of us can remember a time when our communities weren’t divided by racism.

In Continental Divide, I have presented two works which reflect my connections to current struggles with white power structures and how those struggles manifested themselves in previous generations. I have presented a text piece comprised of federal building grade stainless steel letters to symbolize the role of law in addressing societal prejudice. The piece is a take on the traditional anti-racist slogan “Good Night White Pride”. I have changed the phrasing to imagine it as being written by a child. In addition to the text piece, I have installed a painting of a duck to symbolize the duality of fear and freedom in the hearts of people.