Michelle Joan Wilkinson

Published On


Page Range

pp. 165-178

Print Length

13 pages

12. Concrete and Filigree

  • Michelle Joan Wilkinson (author)
‘What gets left when we migrate?’ is the question American-born curator Michelle Joan Wilkinson poses as she opens her curatorial essay, ‘Concrete and Filigree.’ Within that initial question, we are left to ponder its subtext: What are the objects we choose to carry when we leave a place? How do we decide, when we leave a homeland, which of our possessions become worthy to migrate with us? Writing from a curatorial perspective, Wilkinson explores two deeply personal objects that engage this duality of what we leave and what we carry. Concrete and filigree function as inheritances that connect Wilkinson to her grandfather and grandmother, and, by extension, to Guyana. A concrete house built by her grandfather literally roots Wilkinson in Guyana’s soil; and a treasure trove of gold filigree jewelry passed down to generations of Wilkinson women is a reminder of her family’s traditions. While noting the tremendous responsibility of caring for the things we either inherit or carry with us from our homelands, Wilkinson’s essay reminds us that in small and grand ways, we are all the caretakers of our family’s stories.


Michelle Joan Wilkinson