Christine Schroder | The Originalists: Symbols of Wealth Creation and Wealth Exclusion

Opening: Friday, Jun 23, 2023 5 – 8 pm
Friday, Jun 23 – Jul 14, 2023

1463 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642

The comprehensive idea behind this series is a visualization of the economic truth surrounding both the creation and exclusion of wealth in the USA.  I created 267 bags:  89 for each era of wealth-creation / exclusion during the years of slavery / black codes:  The Cotton Empire Era, The Tobacco Era, and The James Crow Era.  The bags symbolically represent wealth.

My concept is based on the idea of “The Originalists” who are now known to be the original signers of the US Constitution.  This term has become part of our vocabulary now because of the recent Senate hearings when Amy Coney Barrett was being vetted for her position as Associate Supreme Court Justice in 2020.  She said she considered herself a defender of the Originalists (even though the original document is discriminatory against anyone other than white, male landowners).

The 56 Originalists who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the 39 Originalists who signed the Constitution in 1789 were all complicit in the original design to rein-in democracy and, control and capitalize on wealth creation.  In my concept, I include all signers of these two documents together.  6 men signed both documents; hence 95-6= 89.

These symbols of wealth have been created with my deconstructed and repurposed (original) yarn from my previous outdoor installations, which have been seen in the Santurce art district since I began in 2016.  The definition of the word yarn has several meanings, one of which is a colloquial expression for a good story which may or may not be true.  The hanging scraps of yarn from each piece represent the lies these people believed (a good yarn), and reinforced every day.  Each era is created within the color scheme of a grotesque rainbow, because that is what these controls of wealth creation were; a rainbow or a prism-like concept of agreed upon lies to create wealth… which was dependent on everyone agreeing to this structure, much like a prism is dependent on very specific nuances in order to exist. Slavery was an accepted, egregious anomaly; a concept based on grotesque arrogance.  In my visualizations of these bags, it is my intention to have them look both grotesque and arrogant.

The Cotton Empire era was THE most profitable time for wealth creation in the United States.  According to Professor of History Edward Batiste at Cornell University, author of “The Half Has Never Been Told,” he states that the 8 cotton states of GA, MS, SC, LA, TN, TX, AL and FL were producing 88-95% (depending on the year) of the entire world’s cotton commodity; which was the most traded commodity in Liverpool, England.  To compare that to the oil industry of today, it was as if those 8 states produced all of the oil of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Kuwait, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, UAE, and Russia for DECADES.