Stories of Shards and Earth, 2013
This photograph is a downward looking view of pottery shards as they were discovered in an archaeological pit in Easton, MD in August 2013. The site (now Talbot Women's Club), is called The Hill. Historically, it was a community and neighborhood built by freed slaves that is most likely the oldest black community in the United States, according to dated artifacts from this pit. The shards may be as old as 1790’s. The bottle accompanying the photograph contains dirt from the bottom of pit, below and thus older than any human artifacts, dating back about 1,000 years.
The combination of photo and dirt represents for me an attempt to understand something about this place. Whether or not one actually touches the dirt in the bottle, it offers that potential, making a tangible connection to place. The shards spark imagination of the human story as it was imprinted on the site. It was a handle from a household pot. Someone made it. Someone used it. Someone broke it. A handle invites one to grasp its object. The image of the handle invites one to imagine the touch and use of an object, to try to grasp the import of another’s experience, across time and distance, through the shared domestic act of reaching for a drink of water.
Thank you to Site Director, University of Maryland archaeologist Stefan Woehlke, who allowed me access to this site to make this piece.
June 2014, article by Brenna Griteman on an extension project in Delmarva Now: