When we moved into the woods in “South County”, Rhode Island, I remember thinking this is as far away from Havana as I can imagine. As I have dug deeper into this land- this other “island”, I began to encounter layers of buried history. One of them connected South County to the Caribbean and directly to Cuba. Rhode Island was one of the colonies most heavily involved with the “triangle trade”, the neutralizing term used to describe the sea faring trade that connected New England, West Africa and the Caribbean, its most valuable cargo being enslaved Africans. Rhode Island wasn’t just involved in the trading of slaves, the state was also heavily involved in the exports of food, livestock, and textiles needed to sustain the plantation culture of the Caribbean and in the South. Many of those products were made, grown, or bred on land here in South County. Negro cloth was produced at nearby mills, live stock such as sheep and horses were bred on Rhode Island’s Plantations a few miles away from us and closer to the shore.
My most recent project, a collaboration with Brown University’s, The Center for Slavery and Justice helps to address this history. The exhibition “Makers Unknown” / Material Objects and The Enslaved”, is a combination of artifacts and art works opening on May 26th and continuing through the fall until October 31st.