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Creole Portraits III alludes to the 18th century practice by slave women on Caribbean plantations of using tropical plants as natural abortifacients.1 As an act of political resistance against their exploitation as “breeders” of new slaves and to protest the inhumanity of slavery, some slave women chose to either abort or kill their offspring. Armed with practical knowledge passed on orally from their African ancestors and/or Amerindian counterparts, enslaved Creole women collected the seeds, bark, flowers, sap, and roots from various plants which allowed them to secretly put an end to their pregnancies. This series of female Creole portraits is “named” for the botanical specimens used by these women to induce abortion. The lithographic portraits reveal intricately braided Afro-centric hairstyles viewed from behind entwined within the iron slave collars which were used to punish female slaves accused of inducing abortion. Each portrait also displays one of the botanical specimens used for this purpose.

text

  • Joscelyn Gardner

date

  • 2009 - 2011

location

  • Caribbean

visually reactivates colonial material culture found in Caribbean archives through printmaking and site-specific multimedia installation as a means of exploring her own white Creole identity from a postcolonial feminist perspective, alongside untold histories of the relationship between black and white Caribbean women under colonialism. She lives and works between Canada and the Caribbean, where her family has been resident since the 17th century.

— ARTICLE: Illustrations: Creole Portraits III: “bringing down the flowers...”

visually reactivates colonial material culture found in Caribbean archives through printmaking and site-specific multimedia installation as a means of exploring her own white Creole identity from a postcolonial feminist perspective, alongside untold histories of the relationship between black and white Caribbean women under colonialism. She lives and works between Canada and the Caribbean, where her family has been resident since the 17th century.

— ARTICLE: Illustrations: Creole Portraits III: “bringing down the flowers...”

1. Joscelyn Gardner, Veronica frutescens (Mazerine), 2009
Hand-colored lithograph on frosted mylar
36" x 24"
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