Martha Edgerton, book conservator and artist, was one of my first supervisors and mentors when I was a wet behind the ears and ahead of myself work-study student in the Department of Conservation and Preservation (1981-84) at Johns Hopkins. I've always admired her work so was happy to give Human Enclosure II, a powerful statement on the parallels of slavery and mass incarceration here in the United States, a home. It's been wonderful to keep the connection with her all this time.
The work is part of a larger series about the Atlantic slave trade titled The Amazing Race: The Atlantic Slave Trade Through the Pages of Book Art acquired in part by Special Collections at Johns Hopkins' Sheridan Libraries along with other works by Martha. Back in 2017, I was able to see many of those works as part of a larger exhibit at the Libraries titled Freedom Where I Stand that included many historic documents along with works of art that spoke to those themes.
|Josephine Baker in Freedom Where I Stand|
|In the online catalog for the exhibit. |
"The theater box represents the barracoons used to temporarily jail
captured Africans until enslavement and mid-Atlantic transport.
It also speaks to the subject of mass incarceration."
I purchased the piece from a large exhibit held in Baltimore at the Creative Alliance back in July. After the close of the exhibit it took a long time to get the work shipped, and then when it arrived it was damaged in transit. Talking with Martha, she asked to complete the needed conservation treatment and shipped it back to me. That was November 30th, and it took over 6 weeks to make it back to Syracuse.
|COVID is real! USPS is everywhere and its employees very exposed.|
Value them, they are essential!
Martha had her assistant LuLu help secure the elements and pack it up. The two of them did a great job (Martha is a very good teacher). LuLu's small fingers were no doubt an asset and really able to get in there.
|LuLu preparing it for its journey. |
Little did we know how long.
So, for the same reason I asked Fritz Otto to unpack. No damage this time.
|It was nice to see everything supported and secured so well.|
|Big supports, but very light.|
|The right tools for the job.|
|Even little supports where they were needed.|
|Everybody needs a hand, sometimes.|
|All done. So glad there was no damage. Thank YOU LuLu.|
Perhaps we'll have a chance to meet someday.
The work really makes you think about the Black lives destroyed by slavery and mass incarceration. We can and must do so much better.