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All images courtesy of Billie Carter-Rankin

You are Where you're Supposed to Be

Artist: Billie Carter-Rankin

Project: You are Where you're Supposed to Be 

Description: Image-based artist Billie Carter-Rankin began her series You are Where you're Supposed to Be in honor of her ancestors. Carter-Rankin's grandmother, Dora Rankin, was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in December 1927. When her grandmother was fourteen, she became one of the millions of Black Americans who moved North during the Great Migration. Through creating tonal prints and using archived family photos, Carter-Rankin processes her grandmother’s transition from growing up in the South to settling in the Midwest. Her grandmother didn't mention too much about her life before moving, but her home was covered with image-based memories of her family, friends, and newfound community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Carter-Rankin ruminates on what's lost and found within these images: 

There’s information that has been lost between witnessing and capturing the events in the images, and viewing the images decades later. How does the absence of information also serve as a narrative in one’s history?

Carter-Rankin's young Uncle George holding Uncle Michael (baby), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, early 1950s.

Carter-Rankin's grandmother, Dora Rankin, with sons: George (left) and Michael (right), and beloved dog during their first few years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, early 1950s.

The backyard of Carter-Rankin's grandparents' house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1950s. The house still is part of their family today.

Carter-Rankin's Uncle George (middle) and Uncle Michael (far right).

Dora (far left) in front of the family house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1950s.

Loved ones, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, early 1950s.

Michael, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, late 50s/early 60s.

Carter-Rankin's Uncle George (far left), and Uncle Michael (middle).

Carter-Rankin's Uncle Michael (far left), and Uncle George (right).

Carter-Rankin's Uncle Michael (center) with cousins before his confirmation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1960s.

Cake in honor of Michael's confirmation.

Carter-Rankin's grandfather Jesse Rankin with family at Michael's confirmation.

Dora's best friend Marie (far left) with loved ones before Michael's confirmation.

Carter-Rankin's great-aunt Claudine (left) and Michael (right) at his confirmation.

Michael with classmates on his confirmation day.

Michael and his classmates after his confirmation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1960.

Carter-Rankin's grandfather Jesse Rankin (right) in the family home.

Carter-Rankin's Aunt Claudine (middle) and Aunt Dollie (right) in the family home.

Jesse Rankin, inside of the family home, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1960s.

Billie Carter-Rankin

Billie Carter-Rankin is an image-based artist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She uses experimentation to focus on the absence of information within personal and collective memory, and the potential that is created as a result of the absence. She graduated with her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020.