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SLAVE TO A NARRATIVE

Slave to a Narrative consists of works related to the narrative of Sally Hemings (Thomas Jefferson’s biracial slave and mistress of thirty years, with whom he fathered six children), the narrative of my ancestors, and the narrative of slavery. The works’ origins are rooted in the exploration of collective and self mythologies, memory and its opposite, and the intersection of race, sexuality, labor and love. The performance addresses these interests as they pertain to my life—a modern life existing as it does as a consequence of my known and numerous unknown literal and figurative ancestors.

Cash Crops at CalArts consists of three planter boxes. from left to right they contain cotton, tobacco, and sugar cane seeds and seedlings. I have been attempting to grow the plants for the last two months outside of my studio in the Annex Courtyard at CalArts.

What Would Sally Do?  is the video documentation of my performance on February 17th at Monticello.

Handsewn Dress is a dress that I printed and sewed by hand in preparation for the performance at Monticello. Within the print are the

words ‘Slave to a Narrative’.


Self Portrait, Sally Hemings is a painting modeled on 18th century American portrait painting. The painting within the painting is titled ‘Herodias Bearing the Head of John the Baptist’ and is a copy of a Guido Reni painting. The Herodias painting was acquired by Thomas Jefferson in 1785. It hangs in the sitting room at Monticello.

2013