Ellipses are the three dots “…” showing that something has been omitted from a larger text.
The Ellipses project was inspired by the State of Connecticut’s recent re-branding slogan “CT, Still Revolutionary.” This begs the question, what is considered here to be revolutionary? Who do we picture when we think of American revolutionaries? The project’s goal is to research and portray untold histories of marginalized populations from country’s industrial past, in particular women from a range of backgrounds who have made revolutionary strides in civil rights, labor and education. The process involves experimenting with how a location’s past can be “read” from the landscape through site-specific performance, activated in public consciousness, and written into history.
In 2015 I researched the life of Carrie Welton, a wealthy gender non-conforming mountain climber from my hometown, Waterbury CT, who fought and gained the right for women to manage the capital required to run businesses. At the regional Mattatuck Museum, I lead a summer seminar for high school and college women where we interviewed contemporary women working with environmental, labor and criminal justice issues. I photographed the activists in the Museum’s portrait gallery, which featured likenesses of the town’s wealthy patrons, though had never portrayed images of working class people or people of color. I facilitated performance workshops and later filmed scenes in locations related to Carrie’s life. These included a women parkouring through her former home turned juvenile detention center for girls; singing a requiem in her father’s former brass factory, and performing musical Morse code messages in the defunct newspaper which had printed salacious art articles about her.
Institutional critique and intervention was central to the exhibition at the Mattatuck in early 2016. in addition to installations of found objects and the projected performance video, I hung the activists’ portraits on a false wall in the portrait gallery facing rows of images of people named Kellogg, Chase and Firestone. I produced an accompanying publication with essays concerning counter publics, Other spaces, forensic architecture, and the relevance of science fiction to social action.
For the current iteration of the project I am collaborating with Patricia Kelly, Founder Ebony Horsewomen, and local law enforcement in Hartford CT to perform a collective action against gun violence. The performance site under consideration is the historical Colt Arms factory site, which is currently being converted to a theme park.
19th Century social advocates who inspired the project’s peroformance videos:
Carrie Welton, Waterbury heiress turned mountain climber
Rebecca Primus, Hartford teacher who built schools for the Freedmen’s Bureau
Augusta Lewis Troup, organizer of the 1st women’s trade union & publisher
Emma Fielding Baker, Mohegan Medicine woman and environmentalist
Contemporary social advocates featured in the project’s portrait series:
Fatima Rojas, spokesperson for Unidad Latina en Accion
Barbara Fair, Secretary of the Greater New Haven American Civil Liberties Union
Patricia Kelly, Founding Director of Ebony Horsewomen, Hartford
Carol Burkhart-Lyons, Founding Director of the Naugatuck Valley Project, Waterbury
Joyce Petteway, Chair of the Greater Waterbury NAACP Education Committee