MFA THESES EXHIBITIONS
AMANDA WENTZEL | KINSHIP BONDS: FAMILY & SLAVERY IN CALHOUN COUNTY
DEGREE AWARD DATE: FALL 2023
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Amanda Wentzel grew up in Calhoun County, AL and earned a bachelor’s in graphic design and photography from Troy University and a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. After over a decade of traveling the world and living in the Sahara Desert, the green Appalachian hills beckoned her home. Her art is inspired by people and experiences, and past projects have dealt with such topics as literacy, cultural preservation, eradication of harmful traditional practices, and social injustice. She strives to use art and design to educate and influence change in her community.
In 1856, the will of a Calhoun County landowner included his desired outcome for the 14 enslaved persons held in his possession. As a descendant of this enslaver, I sought to uncover more about those enslaved persons and their lives. The resulting exhibition, Kinship Bonds, contextualizes national and local history into the lives of the people connected to one small Calhoun County plantation between the years 1850-1880.
Kinship Bonds creates a narrative for the many people who were dehumanized and oppressed through the South’s “peculiar” institution. By using historical documents and gleanings from local newspapers of the era, viewers can examine the beliefs and attitudes that informed the residents of Calhoun County. Biographical sketches of known Calhoun County enslaved persons provide a glimpse into the struggles and obstacles of life post-Emancipation. Kinship Bonds offers viewers an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of our county’s history and reflect on the legacy of social injustices.