My family is from an area of South Louisiana called Bois Mallet and the mix of our ancestry is thorough, representing at least 17 countries in four continents.  We are “people of color.” Bodies of Bois Mallet is a multi-vocal exploration of our living history. 

The two project elements presented here are a series of planted ceramic vessels and a handwoven fabric of an archival text. The ceramic vessels were hand built and designed to have a diversity of environments while maintaining a single continuous soil bed.  This soil was then sown with seeds of plants native to the different places that correspond to my ancestry.  With the ceramic and plant works I am creating sites of potential growth, experimenting with the idea of re-racination, and manifesting visual representation of the diversity of needs for beings to thrive and survive.  The second element of this project is a hand woven fabric questioning the authority of an archival newspaper article that by turns exalts and dehumanizes my great grandfather (Bruno St. Andre, the “Heroic Negro” of the headline) on the occasion of his death.  The process of weaving this document was a performative action, processing it’s voice, rendering it malleable and reclaiming the destructive truth and fallibility–our cultural complexity–line by woven line.

Title: Self Portrait 1 
Dimensions: 30” x 40”x 30”
Date: 2019-2020
Materials: ceramics, soil, seeds*, stumbles, plants*, transplants*, partial truths, time, mistakes, sunlight, water, online archival research, oral history and family conversation
*Seeds/plants include: lavender, black sesame, dandelion, thyme, yarrow, chicory, basil, strawberries, amarynth, mint, bear’s garlic, sweet mace, melegueta pepper, black salsify, borage, rosemary, chamomile, flax, elderberry, jasmine, maypop, shamrock, moss, moringa, yams

Title: Self Portrait 2 
Dimensions: 20” x 25” x 35”
Date: 2019-2020
Materials: ceramics, soil, seeds*, stumbles, plants*, transplants*, partial truths, time, mistakes, sunlight, water, online archival research, oral history and family conversation
*Seeds/plants include: lavender, black sesame, dandelion, thyme, yarrow, chicory, basil, strawberries, amarynth, mint, bear’s garlic, sweet mace, melegueta pepper, black salsify, borage, rosemary, chamomile, flax, elderberry, jasmine, maypop, shamrock, moss, moringa, yams

Title: Self Portrait 3 
Dimensions: 6”x 4”x 8”
Date: 2019-2020

Materials: ceramics, soil, seeds*, stumbles, plants*, transplants*, partial truths, time, mistakes, sunlight, water, online archival research, oral history and family conversation
*Seeds/plants include: lavender, black sesame, dandelion, thyme, yarrow, chicory, basil, strawberries, amarynth, mint, bear’s garlic, sweet mace, melegueta pepper, black salsify, borage, rosemary, chamomile, flax, elderberry, jasmine, maypop, shamrock, moss, moringa, yams

Title:
What can heal a wound?
words, fire, earth, time?
children, trees
some so deep
rootstocks throw
up shoots in new
lands and hands
move knowing
not knowing
knowing where, 
that,
they must

Dimensions: 60”x 36”
Date: 2020
Materials: Handwoven fabric, oral history, found archival text, the embodied act of processing and making malleable legacies of heroism and grief, honor and inhumanity


detail of textile