Artist Tracy Murrell in her studio. Photograph by Anasi Hayes Media.

The Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta’s West End is host to a moving selection of artworks by Atlanta artist Tracy Murrell. Entitled “Dans l’espoir d’un Avenir Meilleur (In Hope for a Better Future) … Exploring Haitian Transmigration,” the exhibition features an encaustic rice paper installation paired with a selection of her signature resin silhouettes and a video installation. 

“My curiosity and interest in themes of migration and the crisis surrounding refugees have been the focal point of my art-making for several years,” Murrell said. Through testing with the National Geographic Genome Project, Murrell discovered a genetic connection to groups living in Haiti. This sparked an interest in learning about her roots and considering the implications of lineages that trace from here in Atlanta all the way to the Caribbean. “The large Western and Central African component of our shared DNA is indicative of the influence of the forced migration of African groups to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade,” explained Murrell. 

I Got Your Back by Tracy Murrell

Through a connection with the GA American-Haitian Chamber of Commerce, Murrell became acquainted with a group of Haitian women from the The International Women of H.O.P.E. which is dedicated to Healing, Opportunity, Purpose, Empowerment to Haitian women living in the United States and in Haiti. Murrell shared her plans to create a body of work based on the topic of transmigration from Haiti and she was subsequently invited to travel to Cap-Haitian with president Rosebrune Sinsmyr-Vixamar and her husband in June 2021. “I was there for 9 days and each day, they showed me a different aspect of Haiti,” remembers Murrell. “It was a wonderful experience but also heartbreaking at times to see such need.”

An Atlanta native, Murrell served as the Hammonds House Museum curator for five years, and this show is her first at the venue. The exhibition represents a sort of coming home, both in topic and theme as well as location. Murrell’s work seeks to portray migration as a shared experience that can help to advance racial and cultural exchanges, bringing a deeper understanding of the complexities and realities of migration through the lens of fine art. 

“It is important to me that Hammonds House patrons and visitors come away with a fuller view of Haiti as a nation of people rich in culture, pride, and vibrancy,” said Murrell. Large numbers of Haitian Americans call Atlanta home, and Murrell hopes that this show will transport the viewers to the Haiti that she experienced. One that is lush, beautiful, and full of resilient people that comprise a vibrant and proud culture. 
Learn more about the Hammonds House Museum and plan a visit to view Dans l’espoir d’un Avenir Meilleur (In Hope for a Better Future) … Exploring Haitian Transmigration on display through Dec. 18.

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.