Ancestors Series

I sew "garments" for girls and women whose existence is little more than a mention in family documents. The garments are not wearable objects, but are narratives with marks and materials that convey each garment's story. I think about family connections and how we claim ownership of the past. Though stitching, my hands repeat the same gestures that my ancestors' hands performed over 300 years ago. 

In the 1600 and 1700s, my male ancestors were farmers, millers, brick makers, blacksmiths, doctors, school teachers, deacons and ministers. I know little about the women from the same period, except the year of their births, marriages and deaths, and the number and names of the children they bore. 

What's missing are the details that make these people whole, complex human beings. I scour the family papers, each time hoping to catch details that might give me clues to who these people were. To some extent, the unknown is what's most appealing, because I can fill in the gaps based on my own life experiences, and with fiction that I generate. With this series I give personas to the names in these family papers. I try to imagine the experiences of women, and of the responsibilities and expectations given to that gender in the 1600 and 1700s, living in a relative isolation, away from a larger community and its associated comforts and resources. 

 

 

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