History Paper: True Blue

Human Hair, Cotton, Blue Jeans, Indigo, and “Blue Black” “Indigo Blue” “Royal Blue” “Off Black” and “Jet Black” Hair Dye

118 x 97 x 1.5 in | 299.7 x 246.4 x 3.8 cm

In this series, “True Blues,” I am engaged with concepts around land, memory, and erasure. I use beaten cotton linters and human hair collected from black barber shops to form sheets of paper. These papers become abstracted documentations, loaded with genetic histories carried through the hair. Traditionally, cotton linters are used in the papermaking process as a binder but in these pieces, the cotton juxtaposed against the hair, imbue the sheets with various historical and racial references.

I introduced blue into my work after my maternal family traced and located the three plantations our ancestors were forced to work as enslaved Africans. True Blue Plantation harvested Indigo and rice and Lang Syne and Singleton Plantations both harvested cotton. The plantations are located in Fort Mott, South Carolina, the furthest being merely six miles away. Singleton was originally owned by US President Martin Van Buren’s Daughter in law, Angelica Singleton and Lang Syne were eventually owned by former US Congressman Langdon Cheves.