Elvira Clayton

My great-great grandmother migrated to East Texas as slave property; this is where the stories began.

Using archival slave documents and photographs, I am making artwork that illuminates narratives of women and children who lived under American slavery. Drawing from historical and reimagined memory, I pay homage to my subjects.

This series is inspired by a calling to search and discover the women in my own lineage. Through this work, I am building a bridge that connects me to my enslaved ancestors.

Trade beads and cowrie shells are embedded throughout my pieces, alluding to both their prominence as currency during the slave trade and as ritualistic embellishments, still relevant throughout the African diaspora.

Layering text, imagery, and vintage, found and organic materials, I am creating compositions that are simultaneously art piece, storybook and sacred altar.