I’ve become obsessed with the wild foxgloves growing near my studio. What’s not to love about a plant that could either save you or kill you? So I put them in my latest altered book.
Foxglove is poisonous — every part of it, fresh or dried. Yet it’s also the basis of a safe and effective drug to treat heart failure. Plus, it’s just pretty, in a femme fatale kind of way.
So I began collecting items that made me think of medicine, danger and beauty, adding them to a vintage copy of the novel Black Beauty.
Before sealing the book, I flipped through it — and found a few casually racist passages I did not remember from my childhood reading. Right next to praise of the horse’s beauty. (Yeah, I know the horse was male.)
But that contrast of praise/insult, object of desire/ beast of burden made me think of how black women are often pegged as beautiful and potentially dangerous.
Somehow we’re powerful enough to save America from itself — and at the same time lure the country down a path of ruin. Plus there’s this weird undercurrent of entitlement too, like we’re literally here to fix the heart of America.
I went back and forth on a few titles for this altered book, but I kept coming back to the original one: “You Got What I Need.”
Speaking of needs, I could use your help: would you share the image above, far and wide? The Seattle Art Fair is coming up next week, which means lots of eyes checking out artists like me. Even better, you can support me by tagging a gallery that has a booth at the fair. The list of participating galleries is here.