Often in life, our experiences affirm the career trajectory we presumably aim, or expect, to follow. For many of us, there’s an innate feeling that draws us towards something – and somehow we stick to it.
I stuck to art, not merely to play, but as a catalyst for life.
And now, I arrive here at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, a neighborhood of Queens, on the steps of triumph and at the front door of possibility. Moreover, I’ve arrived, and not to simply to exist. This experience, like many others, is a calling of sorts and a coming home to what I’ve always known.
Made possible by the Fund II Foundation, this fellowship is both fitting and arrives at the right time. Collectively, the house and the archives make up what will be my home for the following ten months. Alongside another fellow, Deja Patterson, a recent graduate of Tougaloo College, our stint as the inaugural curatorial fellows have begun.
Our first day, which was hosted at the house, began on an early Tuesday morning in far Queens. Accompanied by Barbara “BJ” Adler, Adriana Filstrup, Sarah Rose and Pedro Espinoza, who are all members of the LAHM and archives family, Deja and myself were welcomed with open arms.
Aside from handling normal administrative tasks, the hour long tours of the house was an opportunity to get more acquainted with both the house and Louis. Unlike a typical collecting institution, which generally has ongoing and changing exhibitions, the home itself is the permanent exhibition and mainstay.
On the opposite side of town, and on the campus of Queens College, are all of the archival material. A great deal of ephemeral matter and material culture, the archives brings the life of Louis alive. From the suitcases, reel tapes, and photographs, he lives on and on – especially via the voice recordings.
It’s kind of amazing to say the least, and that’s simply because it’s all managed by Ricky Riccardi. An aficionado of all things Louis Armstrong, the admiration for the late jazz artist is undeniable. But of course, when your career reaches the status that Armstrong’s did, people will surely admire you. Whether it be his talent as a musician, his character, or him simply laughing, his legacy moves on.
More than anything, I’m excited about what this will bring forth and manifest as the months past by. Whether it be the hour long tours of the house or the moments in the archives, things have begun anew.