"This city could never become great without my centuries of unpaid labor. And you call people like me thieves."

In 1991 during the construction of a federal office building in lower Manhattan, an African burial ground from the 17th and 18th centuries was rediscovered. At its peak it had housed the remains of nearly 15,000 individuals, both free and enslaved. The uncovered bones and relics were studied in Washington, DC, and ultimately 419 skeletal remains were re-interred. After witnessing this profound event, artist Noah Jemisin was inspired to capture the history of those earliest African New Yorkers in an emotional and creative painter's frenzy.

The resulting Buried Treasure is a powerful visual and literary document that resurrects a forgotten story. This important piece of history is revealed in a striking collection of gouache paintings and complimented by the fervent prose of Jemisin's daughter, writer N.K. Jemisin. From images of back-breaking slave labor and skeletal remains, to funeral processions, celebration, and dance, both sorrow and strength exude from these pages. As one of the oldest mediums known to Western art, the use of gouache, an opaque-type watercolor paint seems a fitting choice for these works. In color and texture, there is a velvety, solidity in these paintings. The artist's brushwork and contrast of light and dark bring feeling and movement to the subjects. With the book's unique design, prose captions highlight only portions of paintings that hint at a bigger picture. A turned page reveals the full visual.

This beautiful book is truly a gift of honor and remembrance. It is a vivid portrayal of the blood, sweat, and tears shed by thousands of African Americans who became the literal and figurative foundation for the building of a world renowned metropolitan area and a provocative showcase that will give readers pause. Jemisin's own passionate conduit experience, filtered from an ancestral resting place, releases artwork as powerful and brilliant as the history unearthed at its core..

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