“The Compass Rose,” a genealogical art exhibit at Fort Mason

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circular genealogy chart

A genealogical family chart is featured in “The Compass Rose” art exhibit

An art exhibit rooted in family history opens January 13 at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture. It displays the work of CCA dean of fine arts Sunny A. Smith.

The “compass rose,” a circular figure denoting the four cardinal directions and the graduated markings in between, is used in almost all navigational systems. Smith used this concept as the starting point for the exhibit. A circular genealogical chart displays the known names of Smith’s direct ancestors, more than 700 people stretching back thirteen generations to the first wave of European colonization of North America in the early 1600s. A gallery statement describes the exhibit this way:

Tracking the early colonizers, enslavers, and continuing thread of European immigration within the artist’s family lines, the exhibition gathers together artworks that intervene in these legacies of harm through re-interpretation, re-imagination, and re-making or re-working of tradition. These re-crafted objects – conceived as instruments for magic, time travel, and communication with forebears – include an heirloom Irish linen coverlet and a chest of drawers once implicated in the Salem Witch Trials.

The Compass Rose is on view January 13 – March 12, 2023 in Gallery 308, Landmark Building A, at the Fort Mason Center. More information is available at the Center’s website.