Ruth Ann (Martin)
These were the only items of information my mother was able to provide when I began tracing my maternal lineage: the maiden name of my maternal grandmother, the name of my maternal great grandfather, and the known location of their family home-base. A lot of people don’t know this, but her life story is fraught with childhood hardships, abandonment, and abuse, which resulted in a general isolation and estrangement from her biological relatives. Subsequently, my genealogical interests are rooted in my own curiosities surrounding my mother’s unknown familial history and the racial ambiguity of her appearance.
Fast forward to the last few years, I have been living in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, tracing my maternal lineage through nine generations and discovering a rich heritage within the “Little Texas” community of the Pleasant Grove Township in Alamance County, North Carolina. In addition to the photographs and redacted public records featured in this body of work, the story of the “Little Texas” Community was published in the December 12, 1938 issue of the Burlington Daily Times News, and they are referenced in several scholarly journals and textbooks about 19th century isolated populations of mixed race peoples.
The photographic and archival documentation presented in this body of work act as storytelling tools that share a poetic narrative of bridging a generational gap in one’s family history, and raises questions pertaining to the lesser known nuances of the Black or African American identity.
Using my genealogical research findings, I redact the sourced evidence of my maternal ancestor’s individual existences to reveal a thread of lineage. Repurposing photographic and archival documentation as storytelling tools, I illustrate a poetic narrative of bridging a generational gap in one’s own family history. Conceptually, my work acts as a visual representation of reaching out to touch time itself, while raising questions pertaining to the nuances of the Black or African American identity.