What is it?

The Blue Bead Project is about giving a voice to the voiceless. It is about awareness intended to bring about change and healing. 

It is designed to raise awareness for modern slavery.  Our project began with a large installation that was displayed during ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Mi. in 2015.

 

This piece now resides at the end of the old Underground Railroad, Salem Chapel in St. Catherine's, Ontario. The same chapel where Harriet Tubman guided the slaves to their new life in Canada. Today it is time to begin a new underground railroad. And we want you to be a part of it.  

 

Why a Blue Bead?

Beads are one of the earliest forms of currency used in trade. The Blue Trade Beads were used between the 15th and 20th Centuries as currency, in exchange for gold, ivory, land and slaves, which lead to the name "Slave Bead".  They were most widely used during the 17th century when the Dutch East India Company used them. The pentagonal shaped beads were made in Amsterdam though the Venetians dominated production. 

 

Thirty blue slave beads were allegedly used by the Dutch to purchase New York's Manhattan Island from the Native Americans. In some areas they were used to pay wages, allowing some slaves to buy their freedom.  After emanciapation, legend says that the ex slaves of St. Eustatius gathered up all the beads and threw them into the ocean, where divers still find them today. 

 

These Blue Glass Beads have been found repeatedly in the graves of African American Slaves in the United States and elsewhere. We have to wonder, if these beads could have been used to buy freedom, why were they taken to the grave? If they had such value in trade, why were they thrown into the ocean? We believe they were used in offering to Yemaja, an African orisha. She is the ocean and the one who connected them to home.

 

 We use art in all it's forms to raise awareness of modern day slavery and to challenge the beliefs we hold that enables its existence

 

The Blue Bead Project

Dutch Blue Bead_edited
Grandma Moses Bracelet
choker of truth
Blue Bead Band
IMG_20151118_124626
IMG_20151117_115738 (1)
IMG_20151118_100856 (1)
Front El sketch page 2
panel study
Edited Image 2015-9-30-11:11:6
Harriet Tubman Stainglass
harriet and gourd
Sojourner Truth Stainglass
harriet tubman with cane
Elekes_edited
Crown
Blue Bead Project Altar
Blue Bead Braclet
Blue Bead Bracelet 2
blue bead braclet 1
bluebead card
yemaya iconography
Blue bead temp logo

Et in Surcadia Ego...

Wheatland jug band
IMG_20160911_145102137_HDR
absinthe tea
Motor City steam con 1
Motor City steam con 2
absinthetea
IMG_20160723_160416599
13814407_10209553444611116_1490913189_n
13754131_10209551183794597_5434727494742863483_n
13819359_10209553444851122_1235533828_n
wedding couple photo
Wheatland 2015 1
kate painting
ted.drumming_edited
ted at coptic center
kate making digeridoos
kate at wheatland_edited
ted at unity
kate at tea party
ted at church
Ted and the Fourth Choice!-3
IMG_20160107_154625942-2
ted profile
Wheatland 2015 2
ted.bella+drumming_edited
ted.talk.cirque
Ted and Kate
Ted Making Art
Ted and I at Drews Wedding
Ted Drumming
Web Children4
Front El sketch page 2