History Warp and Weft
Medium: hand-painted woven fabric (cotton thread, textile dye), textured paper, pen and ink, ribbon; watercolor (model sketch)
Transcript of calligraphed text:
"During the whole of my sickness, I was nursed in a most devoted and affectionate manner by my maid Fanny. At times she actually wept over me...And yet--when I was scarce able to walk without assistance--she left me without provocation or reason--left me in the night, and that too without the slightest notice."
-- Catherine Devereux Edmonston, Diarist, Civil War*
She could not read between her own lines to find out why. To comprehend Fanny's history, one must read between the lines--indeed, between the pages. No one likes to be owned--that is why Fanny had to tear herself away. Everyone who is able to walk alone should do so.
* The quote comes from Eugene D. Genovese's study _Roll, Jordan Roll: The World the Slaves Made_ (Vintage Books, 1976), p. 99. Genovese contrasts quotes from formerly enslaved persons discussing their deep desires for freedom amidst the denials of their humanity under the constraints of slaveholders, with quotes that demonstrate the concerted non-comprehension exhibited by slaveholders of the humanity of the persons forced to work in their households. Though Genovese documents reflections from other formerly enslaved persons, regrettably there is no quote from Fanny to directly counter Catherine's version of events. Primary sources need to be read carefully for what they contain and what they lack, as they give us incomplete pictures of the past.
When I produced this work (as an undergraduate history and art student), I had hoped that the painted warp fabric would closely resemble the watercolor sketch I used as a model; however my amateur skills at loom-threading resulted in an image less photorealistically but more historiographically accurate.