Creative Capital Interviews Samora Pinderhughes on His Digital Archive, Music Album, and Exhibition: The Healing Project

We spoke to Samora Pinderhughes about his Creative Capital Project, The Healing Project—a multidisciplinary music, film, and installation work stemming from interviews with individuals in and out of the incarceration system. As a whole, the project explores the daily realities of violence, incarceration, detention, and policing in communities across the US, while highlighting healing and care strategies that emerge from these same communities. The Healing Project premieres at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco from March 24 to June 19, 2022.

CC: What excited you most about this project?
Samora: The most exciting thing about this project was the honesty and vulnerability of it; so many people poured their hearts and souls into this project, telling truths both about the systems that create structural violence and about what it really means to cope and to heal from the trauma that the prison industrial complex creates.

CC: What was most challenging about this project?
Samora: The most challenging element of this project was witnessing how the prison industrial complex continued to treat folks in the project, as we were working on it, and not be able to do anything about it. For instance, Keith LaMar who is one of my close friends and participated in the project, is currently still on death row in Ohio, and his execution date is currently set for 2023. I am hoping desperately that we can change this together, and get Keith freed.

CC: What do you hope audiences will experience or take away from this work?
Samora: I hope they will bring their own honesty and vulnerability; I hope they will come with open ears and truly listen; I hope they will take notes from the many jewels that the interviewees in the project drop; and I hope they will be extremely moved emotionally by the work and be foundationally changed by what they experience, in ways that make them act even more ferociously in dismantling the prison industrial complex and building a better world based on honesty and healing. 

YBCA promotional poster for The Healing Project.
YBCA promotional poster for The Healing Project.

CC: What has it meant to be an artist during the pandemic?
Samora: It’s been incredibly tough to be an artist during the pandemic; I had to completely shift my entire project and essentially rebuild it from the ground up because of the realities of the pandemic. It also showed both how essential the arts is to the world and to all people, and how artists particularly in the U.S. are not valued in terms of how they can survive economically and do what they do. Artistic industries within our current realities of racial capitalism and globalism are built for the corporate owners and make artists completely vulnerable to the bottom dropping out for them during something like a pandemic. So my hope is that artists build together and support each other, eventually building communal platforms and fighting for more benefits and protections.

CC: What is one piece of advice you would give to an artist embarking on a new project right now?
Samora: My advice would be: stay honest, stay detailed, and stay free from any limits of genre and discipline.

CC: What’s one thing you look forward to each day?
Samora: I look forward to any moment in the day where I can rest my mind, put in headphones, and put on the perfect song.

Samora Pinderhughes Healing Project
Video still from Samora Pinderhughes’s Grief album trailer, part of The Healing Project.

CC: What does home mean to you?
Samora: Home is anywhere the people I love are.

CC: How has Creative Capital been helpful to you?
Samora: Creative Capital allowed me to become part of an incredible community of artists and people, many of whom I built deep and long-lasting creative relationships with in the times since. They also gave me access to so much life-changing advice on my artistry and career.

CC: What’s a special food or drink that you enjoy (feel free to share a recipe)?
Samora: My favorite food is my dad’s barbecue chicken. I can’t share the recipe because it’s a secret !!