MDOCS Storytellers' Institute

Keshawn Truesdale

a virtual exhibit of work by the 2020 MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute Fellows


The following footage is comprised of videos taken over a one-year span. Originally my Storytellers’ Project was going to consist of past photos that featured me alongside personal objects to communicate a journal surrounding nostalgia. Given the hyper-political climate we’re in now, I shifted to a project that responded to the current moment. I still wanted to keep the theme of a temporal shift. The video deviates from a traditional chronological narrative. I made this choice to show we’re a collection of acts which creates our present. There’s no future except the present. The shift comes at a particular point. The point is when, I am talking with a non-black student about their opinion on Reparations for Slavery. Afterwards comes my interview with Winston Grady-Willis the Professor of Black Studies. Professor Grady-Willis and I discuss the vail of ‘progressive race relations’ Obama Years. Such a juxtaposition is the crux of my narrative. These issues of systematic terror are not a new conversation.  I want the audience to be uncomfortable. And with this uncomfortableness, the audience should examine the reasons why they’re uncomfortable. The video itself hasn’t been over-edited. I made this choice to rely on the strength of my cuts to create mood and meaning.  I could have sought to copy the form of a commercial documentary but that wouldn’t be my voice.  The amateur style represents my becoming of the world. Does tragedy have to don an extravagant custom to garner care? I’m wading in the water, there’s land in sight.  Dat solid ground.

Keshawn Truesdale is an English major and Media and Film Studies minor. His interests include mentoring children to develop their passion for reading and communicating with others. In Spring of ‘19, Keshawn worked at Lake View Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, New York where he rekindled his love for storytelling by witnessing the children’s enjoyment of story time. This past Summer, his curiosity and understanding for film, particularly documentary, was grown through his attendance of Rooftop Films’ events in New York City. Through his participation in Storytellers’, Keshawn hopes to provide a vehicle to lift up the voices of everyday people from his community.


Work of the Fellows * Work of the Institute * Exhibition Description

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