Collaboration with Poet Lauren Russell
In 2013, the poet Lauren Russell acquired a copy of her great-great-grandfather’s diary. Robert Wallace (“Bob”) Hubert was a Captain in the Confederate Army. After his return from the Civil War, he fathered twenty children by three of his former slaves, who were also sisters. One of those children was Russell’s great-grandmother. The result is Descent, a book-length reckoning with this part of her family's history. In an effort to write into and through silences, she wound her way through much peripheral research, but since much of what she knows comes to her via Hubert himself--his diary, his military records, even his grades--she also wants to give a voice to her great-great-grandmother Peggy Hubert and her sisters, black women who have been silenced by history. Descent is a hybrid work of verse, prose, images, documents, traditional and innovative forms. Descent is the recipient of the Tarpaulin Sky Book Award for 2019 and will coming out in 2020.
In collaboration, Russell and Smith envision using visual, spatial, and textual components to speak into spaces of omission and lack in the archive. In this collaboration we will draw on questions of what is visible and what is invisible, what is legible and what is illegible, who owns the narrative, who makes history, and how do we visualize black life and death? We will develop a collaborative practice using method and aesthetics as a framework to produce several visual environments and installations in conversation with Russell’s Descent. Through method we will come up with a system of shared practices in poetry and visual design that reflect questions of history, illegibility, and omission. Through aesthetic form we will use methodological practices to create visual portrayals reflecting the challenge of perception, depicting a past that negotiates omissions. For Peggy: Hauntologies of Descent will exist at the intersection of our creative practices, using visual, spatial and textual components to speak into archival gaps and allow viewers to experience time as blurred, not a linear progression from the nineteenth century to the present but a space we wander across and through. Follow this process here.
Hubert Family Tree
Erasure of an excerpt from Emma Haynes' History of Polk County (1937) by Lauren Russell
One of the few passages where Peggy’s name shows up in Robert Wallace (Bob) Hubert’s journal
Robert Wallace Hubert slave schedule 1860 (pg. 1)
Robert Wallace Hubert slave schedule 1860 (pg. 2)