Ruth J. Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

Works by Jessica HillWorks by Jessica Hill on view, May 3-December 17, 2018

Gallery at the Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice
94 Waterman Street, Providence, Rhode Island

For centuries the sale and enslavement of men and women of African descent fueled a global economy. The system of racial slavery relied upon ideas of racial difference that regulated social norms, and conceptions of humanity and beauty. The continued dominance of whiteness formed during this social system continues to devalue Black life and dehumanize men and women of African descent. As well, Black women's experiences are often left out of histories of slavery; their contributions at the forefront of social movements forgotten.  

Jessica Hill at the commencement forumThe work of 2018 Heimark Artist in Residence Jessica Hill examines the resilience of black womanhood today. Her pieces explore the ways in which racial slavery created ideas about race and racial difference that continue to divide our society. Her work references folktales created through the middle passage and the communities which enslaved people formed in the New World. She creates intricate and beautiful patterns, drawing from African symbols and design as well as the African American quilting tradition. Using iconic references and images of slavery and resistance such as the whip, the plantation, chains, and raised fists she visualizes the ways in which Black women have always fought various forms of incarceration, seeking freedom for themselves and future generations. By asking the viewer to reimagine familiar symbols, the work of Jess Hill seeks to erode historical constructs which continue to dominate American society.  

View the brochure for Herstory

View images from the Commencement Forum with Jessica Hill