From the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s, the United States was transformed from a mostly agricultural society of rural towns of farms and horsepower into industrial metropolitan hubs ruled by steam engines, steel and coal. Cities like Chattanooga were rapidly filling with immigrants from around the world seeking new life and opportunities built in the steel furnaces and coal mines of the Industrial Revolution. Evocation: Reflecting Forward focuses on the role of women who came into this country, often the sole representatives of their family, to put down roots and build the American Dream alongside my personal exploration of womanhood: Mother, Lover and Journey with my Intimate Body.
Forged in steel, blackened by coal-- etched deep into the core of our being, women of the industrial revolution came into this country, often the sole representatives of their family, to put down roots and build the American Dream. With husbands in the steel and coal industries making only a handful of dollars a week and working unregulated 12-20 hour shifts, these women bore the additional burden of working odd jobs to try to make ends meet while often raising children in the overcrowded and under-served slums of these wealthy metropolitan giants.
The installation features images of my family’s matriarchs constructed out of coal dust and steel shavings, hung amidst rust dyed fabric and salt casts of my face and body. The work explores what we share and what we hold close, using salt, sugar, suspension and weight to reflect on personal acts of preservation, deterioration, memory and the unknown.