Primary tabs

When confronting the reality of plantation slavery in America, aspects of life which seemed normal in the early 1880’s are often difficult to conceptualize today. In this block, the artist calls attention to the tradition of child raising, in which slaves were given the task of nursing and raising their master’s progeny. It seems counter-intuitive that one could believe a slave so unworthy of human dignity, yet at the same time entrust them with the life of their child. In this block, a portrait of a slave with their master’s baby is framed by a pattern comprised of enlarged images of a human cell, encouraging a contemplation of the hypocrisies present in the theoretical foundations of slavery, including the supposed biological and intellectual inferiority of black people. Most often, slaves bore responsibilities foundational to the prosperity and functioning of their owners; they were worthy of motherhood but not the recognition of full humanity. By featuring a female-bodied slave in this block, the artist also pushes the viewer to contemplate the highly gendered nature of slave work and how it reveals inconsistencies in the theoretical foundations of racial superiority in America.