I recently took a mini-vacation down to St. Simons Island, Georgia, which is one of the Golden Isles off the Georgia coast to begin a new art series that I call The Spirit Tree Project.
A little about St. Simons Island:
Accessible by F.J. Torras causeway, “The Island” as locals refer to it, is approximately four miles from the mainland of Glynn County and has a diverse history dating back to the Creek Indian tribes, long before the Spanish arrived in the 1500s and established at least two Franciscan missions. To prevent the Spanish reclaiming the land, James Oglethorpe established a fortified military outpost consisting of a fort and town on a bend in the Frederica River in 1736. Oglethorpe’s foresight in establishing Frederica Town (named for the Prince of Wales, Frederick Louis) was rewarded when Spanish forces from Florida and Cuba landed in an attempt to retake St. Simons Island.
What has intrigued me even more since coming to the island in 1996, is the Legend of Ebo Landing.
Ebo Landing is located in St. Simons, Georgia. It is said that the chanting of Igbo people can still be heard at the mouth of Dunbar Creek. The creek is near Sea Island on the southeast coast of St. Simon Island. In the 1850s a group of chained enslaved Igbo people were being held on the beach. They had just arrived to America on board the slave ship, The Wanderer, which crashed when the vessel ran ashore. While being held on the beach, the slaves made a suicide pact. Instead of living the rest of their lives in chains, they ran, chained to each other, into the water and drowned. The site is supposedly haunted by their ghosts. People have reported hearing the sound of irons chattering as the slaves ran from the beach into the water.
This story alone has brought me back time and time again through the years to the island. When I first arrived to the Island years ago, I felt an instant connection to it…that was innate and spiritual. It would be several years before I learned about this legend and began researching the Gullah culture that spans much of the islands off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida.
As an artist, the other feature of the island I was always intrigued by is the “Tree Spirits”…..random carvings of faces in the trees of the island, by artist Keith Jennings. I always wanted to do an art series of some sort around the carvings and I am in the process of developing a mixed media project around them. Check out the video below for more information.