About the process

 

When I spent a summer in Marseilles a few years back I was amused that the children there were called Denzel or Jordan or Aretha. The French seem to be fascinated by Americans, and particularly by African Americans. Why? How come? I started digging: books, films, art. And discovered a whole history of the relationship between the French and African Americans, between African Americans and the French. My initial goal was to produce a documentary. Raising funds and developing take a long time, meanwhile the stories were not told, the connections getting older. A website seemed like a good way to put the information out there and to allow dialogue. The documentary will happen later.


This exploration has brought great rewards: I discovered many African American writers and artists whose work I knew little of or not all: sculptor Augusta Savage, painter Palmer Hayden, writers Chester Himes & Langston Hughes and their texts about France, and many many more.


I talked about this project with many African Americans who I met socially or professionally. It was rewarding to discover that many still have connections with France, whether their grandfather played music or their aunt studied there in the 60s. Some of this material is incorporated in the website. I’m hoping to add more personal stories, from the French as well as from African Americans. Please email me if you have something you are able to share. 




                                                                               Arabella Hutter

                                                                               www.arabellahutter.com

                                           

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