Daily Archives: March 26, 2013

Placing Out in America – The Orphan Trains — an Artist’s Book

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I have finally finished my book “Placing Out in America.”  This is the front of the book.  I used a little piece of rusted screen to create the window with the flag showing through it.

This was quite a project for me, and very different from my usual type of art.  Mostly because I was not using any drawings or paintings of my own, but found objects, and old photos.  I collect old photographs mainly based on the expression of the face.  I have a lot of children, they tell such a story with their faces.

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I tried to age all the paper used, including the found objects.  I loved finding this little flag, and tea dyed it and cut off the stars to indicate the year 1854.

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This is what I placed under the flag.  An old piece of  handmade quilt, completely in tatters.  I thought it indicated the longing for comfort and for a home.

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This is what is under the quilt, a notice of distribution, which seemed a cold term to me.  “The distribution of the children …”

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Here I used paste paper I ran through my printer  to print a scanned photograph directly onto the paste paper.  Also a piece from a gelatin print with rows of little houses, and a corrugated cardboard from a light bulb box to fashion a collaged house– found objects!

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These pages look crooked, but they really aren’t.

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I enjoyed manipulating the old photos making them come  to the forefront by how I built the layers of collage beneath. The train is printed directly onto paste paper.  I used a little gel transfer also – but for some reason none of them came out very well so I gave up. That’s a St Christopher medal hanging above the children standing in line.

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I used silhouettes whenever I wanted to fill in with something on the page.  The little tags with numbers represent the numbers the children were given so they could be identified to potential families.

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If you haven’t heard of the Orphan Trains, it is a real part of American history.  The trains ran from 1854 until 1929.  The Children’s Aid Society was formed in 1853 to take some of the homeless children off the streets of New York City.  Unfortunately there were more children than resources available and the idea of shipping these “unwanted” children to rural America and finding families for them was born.  The trains began running in 1854.

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The last page in the book is only a half width page – I liked how the pages on either side looked so I left it half page width.

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The scrap of fabric under the little wallet is a piece of flour sack print.  I liked how the wallet said “Don’t Forget.”  All these small drawers of small things do eventually find a use!

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Outside back of book.  I used a copy of one of my own paintings and cut the figures out.  I thought they looked like they belonged with the rest of the children.