Daily Featured Artwork: Iviva Olenick’s “Ghost of American Textile…”
Event Date and Time: May 19, 2020 6:00 pm
Ghost of American Textile History
Indigo-dyed fabric on voile with beading, embroidery
“The project for which the Puffin Foundation so generously provided support, Crowd-Seeded Textile Farm, a colonial textile crop farm, uses urban farming as an entry point to discuss the ways enslaved labor laid the groundwork for contemporary race and socioeconomic inequities, enriching landowning whites and entrenching blacks in poverty and unequal access to healthcare, education, housing and other resources. The attached artwork illustrates or re-imagines some of this textile, labor and social history, specifically, the legend of Eliza Lucas Pinckney. Indigo, a blue dye producing plant, was a cash crop in South Carolina from 1745–75.
Eliza Lucas Pinckney is often credited with indigo’s success. Pinckney, the daughter of plantation owners, planted several seasons of tropical indigo seeds before the crop took hold. She is said to have distributed seeds to neighboring plantations, spearheading the region’s growth of this plant. While contemporary historians have reinserted enslaved African laborers in this narrative, recognizing their contributions to indigo’s success, including culturally specific knowledge from West Africa of how to ferment indigo leaves to extract pigment, Eliza Lucas Pinckney remains heralded a feminist. Most historical accounts regale her contributions with no mention of enslaved laborers. My artwork seeks to re-balance this narrative, asserting and inserting the role of enslaved Africans and the mysteries of the indigo plant, around which much mythology remains.” -Iviva Olenick
This piece is from our latest exhibition, Conversations 2020