image: visual output of ground penetrating radar scans depicting grave sites under Robles Park Village.

Manifold Vanishing is a collection of works of and on paper, using abstraction to reflect on the many ways Black people are disappeared. The work in this exhibition aims to take a painful story, and lay it down with soft hands.

“Demolition crews came for the African-American neighborhood of Robles Pond in 1951. People living there had tried to save it, pleading with the Tampa Housing Authority and filing lawsuits. But their efforts failed and Robles Pond, a humble community of about 45 acres linked by sandy roads, was replaced with Robles Park Village — a new public housing complex of 67 buildings for whites only.

— Paul Guzzo, Tampa Bay Times [1]

manifold vanishing

The story of Robles Pond is all too familiar. Established in the late 1800's on the outskirts of Tampa, FL, the history (and expunction) of Robles Pond resurfaced due to the 2019 rediscovery of Zion Cemetery -- the oldest Black Cemetery in Tampa. Zion was lost to history until researcher, Ray Reed, found an account of its existence, but no indication of its location until investigative journalist, Paul Guzzo, found Zion underneath Robles Park Village, the public housing complex built in 1951. 

Most of the people buried in Zion Cemetery were never moved to make way for the construction. Ground penetrating radar detected 300 casket-shaped depressions in the courtyard of Robles Park Village, and hundreds of others are likely underneath the building and adjacent properties. In June of this year, archeologists uncovered “the ghost of a casket,” the shadowy remnants of a long deteriorated wooden coffin, providing evidence that the radar detections were indeed caskets. The stories do not end there. In the Tampa area alone, three to six other “lost” Black cemeteries were found in the last year.[2]

The story of Robles Pond repeats itself in Gainesville in the story of Seminary lane, an affordable housing complex in the historically Black 5th Avenue neighborhood, which was demolished in 2009 in Gainesville, FL. The empty lots that were once Seminary Lane may soon become luxury student housing, in service to the needs of the University of Florida, a predominantly white institution. All the while, the Porters Quarters neighborhood is increasingly encroached upon by UF’s “Innovation District'' and other developers. 4Most Gallery is located in Porters Quarters. 

Black communities experience historical and contemporary erasure by callous, purposeful, and violent means all over the country.[3][4] The Covid-19 pandemic and the uprising against police brutality have made clear how the vanishing of Black people happens at multiple points: in history, and the ways we remember it, in life, and the breath we are allowed, and in minds and the trauma we inherit. Because of this, we are a nation of hollowed-out landscapes where even at rest, Black people have not been allowed to exist. 

Manifold Vanishing is the culmination of research conducted by Ashley J Ortiz-Diaz during her year as 4Most Gallery + Studio Resident.


[1] A community, not just Zion Cemetery, disappeared to build homes for whites, by Paul Guzzo

[2] ‘Those young people out in the streets inherited our rage’, by Paul Guzzo

[3] Goetz, Edward. “Gentrification in Black and White: The Racial Impact of Public Housing Demolition in American Cities.” Urban Studies, vol. 48, no. 8, 2011, pp. 1581-1604. JSTOR,

[4] Black Cemetery Loss is a National Crisis, by Morgan Jerkins

image: digital overlay of original schematic for Zion Cemetery over the (now vacant) Robles Park Village Public Housing Complex

Using Format