Pearl Dream is a site specific installation that commemorates The Pearl Incident of 1848, when 77 domestic slaves working in Washington DC and Virginia homes and hotels attempted to escape on a schooner named The Pearl. The ship was apprehended in the Potomac River about 100 miles downstream from Washington near Point Lookout, Maryland. The captured slaves were re-sold to buyers needing field hands, including one girl of 13 years old working in a residence near the above installation site in Foggy Bottom at 25th and Eye Streets, NW.
Pearl Dream addresses power dynamics, conflict, loss, marginalization and deterioration. Influenced by the combined Christian and African beliefs of my paternal grandmother, Pearl Dream features solar deity, Anyanwu: the Eye of Light. Anyanwu is also the Soul of Encircling Waters, represented by the oysters shells surrounding her, and referencing the unfailing continuity of life. Retrieved from the very waters The Pearl was captured in -the Potomac River near Point Lookout- the oyster shells are empty of pearls, thus symbolically expressing the tears and sadness of the men and women forced into a life of perpetual servitude. Through acknowledging the natural processes of dissolution, Pearl Dream reflects aspects of existence on the edge of potential demise.