Gail Rothschild

People From Off

1992


200 figures made of earth red clay; cages constructed with wood and wire mesh; paintings on wall with latex paint and rice; texts on glass walls. 12 x 20 x 60 feet.
Commissioned by the University of Arkansas Little Rock

During the 1830s, thousands of Cherokee, Choctaw and other Eastern Native American peoples were forcibly removed from their homes and marches along the “Trail of Tears” to Oklahoma; the trail passed directly through Little Rock. During World War II Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps. Two of these were located in Arkansas.

Arkansas is the largest producer of poultry in the U.S. Chicken cages served as the models for the eleven forms in the installation. The egg shapes on the wall are made of black paint mixed with rice, another major Arkansas product.

Members of the community responded strongly to these images of refugees and cages with stories about Slavery, the Rural Exodus, Native American Ancestors and many others.

The gallery is enclosed on three sides by glass walls through which people walking along the corridor could see the installation. On the outside of the glass I posted historical documents printed on transparent mylar. But on the inside of the glass walls people wrote their personal experiences directly on the glass. This created an opposition between “official” and “unofficial” history - Insider and Outsider. The glass walls, covered with a web of black text, thus became a metaphor for different ways of experiencing this place, posing the question: who will we permit to tell our stories, write our history.

People From Off, 1992
Figures made of earth red clay, wood and wire mesh cages, latex paint and rice, text on glass walls
12 x 20 x 60 feet

People From Off, 1992
Figures made of earth red clay, wood and wire mesh cages, latex paint and rice, text on glass walls
12 x 20 x 60 feet

People From Off, 1992
Figures made of earth red clay, wood and wire mesh cages, latex paint and rice, text on glass walls
12 x 20 x 60 feet

People From Off, 1992
Figures made of earth red clay, wood and wire mesh cages, latex paint and rice, text on glass walls
12 x 20 x 60 feet

People From Off, 1992
Figures made of earth red clay, wood and wire mesh cages, latex paint and rice, text on glass walls
12 x 20 x 60 feet

People From Off, 1992
Figures made of earth red clay, wood and wire mesh cages, latex paint and rice, text on glass walls
12 x 20 x 60 feet