Complicating Matters of Cultural Historical Information Reproduction through Art and Design by Courtney Richardson
From Nicholas Morse
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2nd Place Winner Image of Research 2020
This image displays an in-progress state of my visual study: a textile/fabric iteration of a historically based dataset. This 2016 dataset is a simplified and incomplete copy of an 18th-century handwritten manuscript entitled, Book of Negroes. The registry documents the biographical material of 3,000 Black Americans (historically labeled the Black Loyalists) who emigrated from New York (America) to Nova Scotia (Canada) at the end of the American Revolution. This process image is part of a larger study that uses art and design to explore questions on how incomplete historical material can matter in relation to human interaction and experience. 1,000+ names of the Black Loyalists are re-presented as traveling across the fabric. While working closely with these names (optically and tangibly), I noticed how I viewed them as surrogates for the actual migrants who traveled across land and water. This resulted in me working less mechanically and more intuitively, prioritizing name placement based on possible familial connections over that of abstract rules for structure and arrangement. The latest intervention with embroidery retraces my decisions for arrangement. While working, thoughts of repeated joining and disjoining of relationships and mis/re-identification of individuals emerged, complicating perceived experiences of the Black Loyalists.