Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Communication Design



Committee Chair

Professor Chad Anderson


This paper examines the resilience of Laura Clark, Carrie Davis, and Delia Garlic, three formerly enslaved women from Alabama whose memories and experiences during enslavement were part of a large slave narrative project called Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1938. The design exhibition, Seeing Slavery, visually communicates and portrays the accounts and portraits of the three women. Printed and embroidered fabrics visually communicate the narrative stories of these women, while their portraits are made from screen printed acrylic glass.

Following an introduction, a literature review details the history of the three slave narrative projects. The literature review examines the critical responses of the slave narratives, the importance of Alabama and women within the historical context of slavery, and how fabric can be used as a medium for storytelling. A section detailing the narratives of the three women also includes criticisms and resilience found in the narratives. Artists who have approached the topic of slavery are discussed in the visual exploration section. The techniques and designs in Seeing Slavery are analyzed in the thesis section. The final section presents conclusions about the exhibition design.



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