The Power of Fashion

Let’s take a closer look into the Valentine’s exhibition, Our Hearts On Our Sleeves, now on view through January 28, 2018. The exhibition aims to highlight the symbiotic relationship of fashion and textile work with that of the Richmond’s culture. It explores the history of this relationship between philanthropist, artist, curator and community.

One stand out collection of pieces in the exhibition is that of the work of Claudia Helene Jemmott, who’s Middle Passage Series: Homage to the Ancestors emphasizes the roles countries played in the horrendous acts of the slave trade. In three silk pieces Jemmott’s process of Batik impressed the images of slaveships onto three flags in American History – the flag of the United Kingdom, the flag of the Confederacy, as well as the flag of the United States. The significant of including all three of these flags specifically emphasizes the role that slavery played in building these nations and that each one took part in the wretched act. Behind these three country flags is a unique textile that represents the scope of the Middle Passage. Each piece exemplifies the applicability of art to textile/fashion as well as how one can use fashion to display an important message. The slave trade is a darker part of Richmond’s and our country’s history, yet a part of it none the less. Pieces like Claudia Helene Jemmott’s utilizes fashion and textile art to create not just a powerful pieces but a dialouge about the context of our history and the responsibility that the United States and others have played in marginalizing African Americans.

Visit the Valentine today to learn more about Claudia Helene Jemmott and her work as well as the rest of Our Hearts On Our Sleeves.

Claudia Helene Jemmott explains the Middle Passage Series to Majorie Grier, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees
April 26, 2017
The Valentine

Middle Passage Series on display at Our Hearts On Our Sleeves exhibition
c. 1994
Batik on silk satin
Claudia Helene Jemmott
On Loan from the artist

Photo of Jemmott’s Middle Passage Series as well as Eva Rocha’s The Chorus.
April 26, 2017
Photo: Barry Bless

Close up of Jemmott’s work
April 26, 2017
Photo: Terry Gau, Culture Works

Joey Fall
The PR & Marketing Intern
The Valentine