Date of this Version
Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.
This paper examines the use of textiles as a vehicle for speech. From 2001 through 2010, I created a series of art works that provide a visual narrative of the mixed race communities of Eastern Florida. With embroidery as the tool, I use mapping, portraits, and direct quotes to create a conceptual landscape of this early history. Although mixed race communities existed in a few pockets of the American frontier during the late 18th Century through the middle of the 19th Century, the most successful mixed race communities of that period thrived in Eastern Florida. Families living in this Territory included Europeans, African slaves and their descendants, Majorcans and Native Americans from the Cree and Seminole tribes. It was under the Spanish Flag that race mixing began and families created alliances, built community, established schools and formed business partnerships across the color line. In Spanish Florida it was not uncommon for British landholders to marry or to take as life partners African American women. These mixed heritage women ran businesses, taught school and were plaintive in court cases throughout the territory. Though the Spanish regime ended in 1821, when Florida became a territory of the United States, my embroidery will show how the landscape of East Florida continued to be affected by these early pioneers, who were never forgotten by their descendants.