Donté K. Hayes
My research and artwork are focused on the pineapple as a symbol which represents welcoming and hospitality, while also examining issues of access to food, empire, and what constitutes the feeling and or act of being welcomed. Through this research, I have discovered that the tradition of the pineapple as a symbol for hospitality is rooted in slavery and agricultural colonization of South America, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States, in particular, South Carolina and my home state of Georgia. When a new slave ship bringing enslaved Africans docked at the port, the foremen would place a pineapple at the front of the dock to notify a new shipment of enslaved Africans has arrived. This creating the pineapple as a symbol for welcoming. The investigation in the concept of welcoming is also from personal struggles in navigating through public spaces and environments and not feeling like I belonged or welcomed. These ceramic objects are vessels, each making symbolic allusions to the black body. The artworks suggest the past, discuss the present, and explores possible futures interconnected to the African Diaspora. While also examining deeper social issues that broaden the conversation between all of humanity.