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  • Writer's pictureApril Gavin

Confidence versus Disappointment

Form C: Daily Record of Cotton Picked combines my two jobs in this life: My day job as a bookkeeper and my work as an artist. I might win the geek award for admitting this, but I read books on accounting history. Recently, I read a book called Accounting for Slavery: On Masters and Management. This book highlights the accounting of plantation owners and how many of these record keeping practices exist today. There was one form that was common for a cotton plantation owner to maintain and that was Form C. This form kept track of the number of pounds of cotton an enslaved person picked over the course of a six-day work week. This data in turn was used to measure that person’s value to the plantation owner.

For this work, I used re-claimed denim that was donated to me by my friends in the Mother Lode Weavers and Spinners Guild. The history of denim is tied with slavery via the cotton and indigo plantations that existed in the nineteenth century. The panels are arranged to represent rows of cotton in a field. I printed individual cotton bolls on each panel and then overlaid the names of enslaved people on one exemplar of Form C as well as the amount of cotton they had picked.

Yep, that's what I wrote and this is the image I submitted. I was sad today to learn that I was not accepted to the exhibition I entered this in. It was one of those pieces where I entered the "zone". I'm sure anyone who makes anything has a zone they enter. For me, it was a conversation between the work and my spirit. The work told me what was needed and where. I felt really confident submitting this work for an exhibition, but alas it must wait for another opportunity.

One of the things I have learned from the process of submitting art and being rejected is that it's not necessarily about the quality of the work or my skill as an artist, but about how the exhibition as a whole hangs together. Perhaps this was too large and the juror wanted smaller pieces. Or perhaps, the majority of pieces used a warmer palette and this cool palette would not fit. This knowledge does not alleviate my disappointment but my confidence says this is good work and will be shown somewhere in the coming future.

Last post, I mentioned that this work was accepted to the Ellington White Gallery in Fayetteville, NC. For those of you who would like to view the whole show, the link is here.

I did a massive over-haul of my studio and cleaned a lot out. It's good to have some fresh space and a functional studio again. There will be new work very soon.

Shout outs:

West Oakland Mural Project - if you're looking for a way to celebrate Juneteenth, there is a wonderful new mural and museum for Women of the Black Panther Party. I am volunteering to help their organization get to the next level.

Authentic Storytelling - One of my favorite writers/thinkers Barry Lopez speaks on what makes a story authentic versus inauthentic. He passed over last year, but was an incredible writer on the natural world, traditional peoples, and the pathological persistence of the dominant culture to destroy it all. His final book Horizon was published shortly before he died.

Illustrator Eric Carle passed over recently. For those of you who enjoyed The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you will love this video clip from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Eric Carle gives Fred Rogers a few art tips and then together they read From Head to Toe. The world feels like a better place after watching.

I am taking re-entry slowly but hope to see you soon. Be well, be happy


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