These beautiful last days of summer are the perfect time to admire the garden at the Morris-Jumel Mansion and step inside to view a thought-provoking exhibition of textile art. Titled The Fabric of Emancipation, the juried show was produced by the mansion in partnership with Harlem Needle Arts, an organization that promotes fabric and needle arts made by artists of the African Diaspora. The works on exhibit highlight the historical and contemporary experience of blacks in the United States. In this pointedly topical piece, for example, Laura R. Gadson juxtaposes the divergent treatment of blacks and whites who attract the attention of the police.
The octagonal drawing room at the Morris-Jumel Mansion is hosting distinguished guests: Greek and Buddhist goddesses and women of the Old Testament, painted by artist Andrea Arroyo. The shaped canvases take the form of panels from medieval altarpieces, honoring a range of women in a way traditionally restricted to saints and other holy figures in Christian iconography. The paintings, on display until August 21, are part of Arroyo's exhibit Boundless—The Women of the Mansion.
Arroyo has crafted outdoor, site-specific pieces as well, but the latter will only be on view until this Sunday, July 31, 2016. All are invited to attend a free closing reception and performance on the 31st at the Morris-Jumel Mansion (1 to 2:30 PM), which will include live art by Arroyo and piano accompaniment by jazz musician Marjorie Eliot.
History buffs, don't miss a summer exhibit at the Morris-Jumel Mansion that has slipped in under the radar screen. It explores the subject of slavery in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century New York through the lens of documents from the house's archives. One of the most interesting items is a paper promising freedom to a slave named Jack. His owner was a free black man, William Waldron—son of a Dutch-American father and enslaved mother. Waldron, like his father, became a farmer in Harlem who depended on slave labor—as did so many New York landowners in the eighteenth century. The document is a reminder that New York slaveholders were a more diverse group than we might think.
The exhibit, titled Cuffee Philipse: A Legacy in Documents, was organized by former Morris-Jumel Mansion archivist Emilie Lauren Gruchow.