New Orleans, LA
Jyna Nischel Roots is a mentor, writer, director, actor and performance curator. Well trained in her craft, she earned her B.A. in Speech Communications and Theatre Arts from Dillard University in 2004. Following graduation, prior to beginning her 17-year teaching career, Jyna worked with the acclaimed Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta in multiple capacities. Upon her return to New Orleans, she developed and implemented theatre and multi-disciplinary arts programming for schools and organizations in New Orleans. Just last year, Jyna was among a small NAACP group awarded with a proclamation from the city for their work with youth. Jyna has also worked as a freelance artist with, McKenna Museums, No Dream Deferred, Le Petit Theatre, Voices in the Dark Repertory Theatre, among others. Jyna’s goal is to utilize arts to provide creative outlets and platforms where unheard voices and untold stories can boldly reverberate; leaving long lasting impact.
ROUTE TO OUR ROOTS; Black Farmers from New Orleans to Natchitoches (wt) is a multi-disciplinary exhibit that highlights the lives, stories, practices, and material culture of Black farmers near New Orleans and in Cane River of Natchitoches. While agriculture and rural life in Louisiana have undergone tremendous transformation since the colonial and antebellum periods, one thing that remains at the heart of it all – the Black farmer.
This project documents and showcases the untold historical, cultural, and economic significance of Black farmers in Louisiana; the unbreakable ties between Africa and Louisiana existent in our practices and food; and will examine the challenges Black farmers in Louisiana continue to face after centuries of oppression.
As curator, I aim to make clear how far removed we have become from what is an innate, and to some a
spiritual, relationship with the land and growing through four facets: a museum gallery walk, a
performance-based collection of oral history from Black farmers past and present, a series of workshops
educating in healthy eating and urban gardening, and a Farmers’ Market composed of local Black farmers on historical Bayou Road.
This exhibit provides tangible experiences designed to inspire patrons to begin the journey back to our
roots in growing; thus, increasing accessibility to whole foods, health and wealth in the Black community
in and around New Orleans while honoring the undercelebrated Black farmer…and finding the “Route to
Our Roots” individually and collectively.