art · southern history

juggling continues

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The juggling of many projects continues as I countdown to my residency in Iceland. I am taking an interim class taught by my colleague Heather Kopelson. Handmade Nation: Knitting and History is the course’s name.

I am no knitter.

My carpal tunnel won’t permit it.

Only last night, I completed the rough draft of my Annotated Bibliography for my class project and woke up in the middle of the night with sharp pains in my wrists and numbed fingers. This pain is doubtless also related to two years of editing The Grant Green documentary, which will soon be released after a couple more screenings.

I go forward with the strength of my great grandmother, mother and grandmother beneath me.

Indeed, as I just said in a Facebook post, I enjoyed reading Linzy Brekke Aloise’s essay on the motivations of fashionable working women in antebellum America, one of the course readings, because it brought to mind these strong women who sure had a knack for fashion as the photo here shows.

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In my last blog entry, I mentioned these curtains my grandmother, a domestic and eventual caterer, made of beautiful cloth. She hemmed them herself. Not perfect, but I loved how she was always interested in making beauty where there was often none to be found.

I added this reading to my Annotated Bibliography last night. I plan to use it in my ongoing research involving gendered, racial and spatial politics in or near the lower Florida peninsula especially as these things relate to migrating bodies from the antebellum period through the postwar years. That project has a meditative focus on my ancestral past. This query includes my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Look at those foxy Mississippi-born women. Kopelson’s class and Aloise’s essay push my thinking about working women’s motivations and across time respectability politics.

How this all ends in my final project without a finished knitted piece is still being processed, but I am grateful for our visit to the Digital Humanities center at the University of Alabama next week. Perhaps my piece will have a digital component and I’ll do something tactile resembling my ongoing work on found wood (usually an outlet to decompress from teaching).

Ah, choices. And soon, time to really rest and reflect.

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Here is one of the mixed media pieces I created earlier this semester. That archival photo was purchased in a flea market stall in Detroit late last century. I like how the fiber provides cues on the way in which modern people move through space in coerced ways and not. The color suggests, too, ways of remembering the past. Is it as flat as we think? Are their ways to rethink perceptions of historical actors’ experiences? What do we lose and gain in not doing this as we look at surviving sources involving oppressed bodies who survive against great odds?
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