Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Family Story my mother told me

Text: My great grandmother, Mary Ann Morahan was born in 1865 in New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Ireland and immigrated in the 1860s.

At 14, she worked as a servant. She married Geroge Johnson in 1885 and moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey. They had two boys and two girls.

Her husband sent the boys to college; they became engineers. Although he could afford it, he refused to pay for the girls to Elizabeth Normal School, the local teacher's.

She took home mattresses to sew in the parlor to earn the money to send the girls to school. Her husband was so embarrassed by the situation that he relented and paid for both daughters to go to college.

They were my great aunts Edna and Ella, who were school teachers until they retired.

Artist Statement: My mother did indeed tell me this story about her grandmother sewing mattresses. The story underscores the power of education and my great grandmother's determination for her daughters to have the same opportunities as her sons. She is just one of many strong-willed women in my family.

The pages are plaster and gauze, using the wire-edge method of binding (although it's bamboo skewers instead of wire).