Andrea Pappas Presents at the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Andrea Pappas (Art and Art History) presented her new work at the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Her paper, “'My Will and Pleasure': Art and Enslavement in Two Embroidered Pictures of the Chandler Family, 1756-1758” discusses two embroidered pictures that include Black servants, a highly unusual image for embroidery at the time. Both pictures share the complex visual conventions characterizing mid-18th-century colonial embroidery. The resulting visual system, coupled with their materials (fiber) and origins in the hands of women, entailed their banishment from the realm of high art—and from art history. Scholars of textiles have noted in passing that elite families in New England often enslaved others, but Andrea’s paper examines documents from the period and details from these pictorial works in order to excavate the specific connections between these two needlework pictures and slavery in British North America. She argues that the figures of the servants, while not portraits, nevertheless refer to a mother (Sylvia) and her son who were enslaved by the Chandler family. A family history records a song that Sylvia sang in public and Andrea's paper argues that, given the particular historical context, the song should be read as an act of resistance by Sylvia. This paper is part of a body of work that will contribute to her upcoming sabbatical project, one that situates women’s embroidered pictures in transatlantic history and culture.