New project


The Orphan Train 2013 011

Putting together a new project!  A handmade artist’s book called “Placing Out in America.”  I’m using collage, gelatin monoprint, paste paper, old photographs, gel image transfers, and found objects – oil pastels, acrylic, watercolor.

This is about the seventy-five year history of the largest migration of minor children in the history of the world, and its popularly known as the Orphan Trains.  The history is astounding in our modern age of child protection laws, privacy, and legal adoption.  Children were placed out by the Children’s Aid Society of New York City, and The Foundling Asylum later called the Foundling Hospital of the Sisters of Charity in New York.  There was no legal adoption; anyone who wanted to take a child into their home was interviewed and the child was signed over for a period of a 90 day trial, after 90-days if there were no complaints, the child became their legal property.  Most children were placed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their New York City homes into the farm country of rural America.

The Orphan Train 2013 001

I am having trouble with the gel image transfers coming away cleanly.  I’ve used this technique before with good results, but this time I am not getting such good results – however, I’ve decided to use them as it seems to work okay with this project.

The Orphan Train 2013 002

Many of the children were immigrants and had survived the trip to America only to have their parents unable to care for them once they arrived.  Poverty, destitution and death left many of the children orphaned.  The Children’s Aid Society rounded up children from the streets of New York City from 1853 through 1929 and placed them out to the rural farmlands in America by train.


13 responses »

  1. aloha Olivia. wow. this is a compelling project and story. your work as always is so rich and from the heart i have not doubt this will be a stunning book. aloha – Rick

  2. Thanks, Rick. Good to hear from you – Aloha to you. This is a compelling subject, and not commonly known about as part of our American history.

  3. Fascinating history, I had no idea. I love the work you’ve done so far on it, it suits the epoch and situation perfectly. What a great project! I wonder how many of those farm homes wanted the kids out of altruistic motivations? I hope you tell us more as you go along.

  4. yes, exactly. a lot of history is not well known. and some should be. i consider this one well worth knowing.

    even those who know and grow up with their parents know something about being orphaned, yet we know very little at all. there are many stages of not having parents or a parent. most people (and children) who think, at some point, question their family, parents and so on—and how do we know?

    at some point most of us lose a parent or both even as an adult.

    it’s an excellent project (imo). it definitively centers around one of the most heart felt states of being human (also imo).

    one of the things i like a lot about your work and highly respect is that you always think with great depth—and your work makes others (including me) think along with you. potent and powerful as always.

    yeah, i dont get around nearly as often as i’d like to. i’ve been trying to watch for new posts and get to a few blogs a little more often.

    your blog is always worthwhile. thank you. aloha.

  5. Hi Judee, From what I’ve read, the farm families were looking for help with the work of running a farm. Boys were more valued than girls because of this. Many children were abused.

  6. Thank you, Rick. Yes. I think its a subject we all can relate to. I had heard about this several years ago, and its been in the back of my mind since!

  7. Thanks Caterina, I have really been enjoying mixing things up with this project! I appreciate your comment!

  8. Thank you, Tony. This has been a compelling project for me. I think this may be something I will do again, using historical material as a subject for an artist book.

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