Of Earth and Cotton traveled from 1994 to 1998, evolving at it crossed the southern United States, following the westward migration of the cotton belt. At each of seven locations from the Carolinas to Texas, I spoke with people who farmed and picked cotton by hand in the 1930’s and 40’s. As they spoke about their memories, I sat on the ground sculpting portraits of their feet out of nearby soil. The foot portraits became the focal points of large installations where they rested on 60 tons of soil or 2500 pounds of ginned cotton. Made of many different colors and textures of soil, the portraits were a metaphor for all the soils that were worked and the diversity of peoples who worked them.
Accompanying the installations were forty photographs from the 1930’s that depict living and working conditions of cotton farmers during the Depression and a video by Terry Iacuzzo that documents my conversations with the former cotton farmers. The photographs were commissioned by the US Government for the Farm Security Administration.
This project was developed in collaboration with curator and photographic historian Susan Harris Edwards. Of Earth and Cotton was featured on the CBS Sunday Morning Show in March 1996.
Of Earth and Cotton traveled to:
McKissick Museum, Columbia, SC (1994)
Diggs Gallery, Winston Salem State University, NC (1995)
The Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, TN (1995)
The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA (1995)
University of North Texas Art Gallery, Denton, TX (1996)
The National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN (1996)
Gallery 210, University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO (1998)
Of Earth and Cotton has been gifted to and can be seen at the National Civil Rights Museum at 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, Tennessee 38103.