Curved Comb Back Settee
White oak, hard maple, eastern white pine, milk paint finish, 2019
Ferdinand Bauduy abandoned his plantation during slave revolts. Thomas Pearsall, heir to a Wall Street fortune, was “a bon vivant, who...never performed a single act of benevolence.” Both were important patrons of early American furniture. Trained as an 17th-19th century furniture maker, I was called to consider the moral complexity of replicating the styles that adorned the halls of power in the early American period and to ask the question: Can their beauty be disassociated with the racism, classism, and misogyny of that time? My furniture speaks to female experience specifically. In my work, the furniture is female. Furniture performs invisible labor; it welcomes, hosts, bears weight, is seen and not heard. I personify my furniture by incorporating contemporary imagery using traditional techniques of glass enameling and marquetry; at the same time, celebrating and critiquing the history of American decorative arts.