Messengers of Yesterday
Messengers of Yesterday, by Cynthia O’Dell, is a collection of photographic works exploring the legacy of Ireland’s 1845-1852 famine, also known as An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger), and the perpetual migration narrative that has shaped Ireland’s identity since that great trauma. The project seeks to validate the cultural memory of a community, explores the lineage of colonization, and examines a legacy of dislocation.
Tullig Village, Kilrush, Co. Clare, 2006/1849
‘The abandoned village of Tullig’, taken from
the Illustrated London News of 15 December 1849
This work began as a journey into O’Dell’s family archive as well as a journey to Ireland and is an attempt to understand her Irish American identity in the midst of the famine. As a child, her own family’s narrative was one of dislocation, due to lost homes, expulsion from rental properties and disrupted family dynamics. This prompted a nostalgic longing for a vague Irish heritage. This early life experience dovetailed with stories of her ancestors being forced to leave Ireland, and so her empathy for that kind of dislocation and loss of place continually draws her there.
Photographs of her ancestors, evictions, engravings from the Illustrated London News and quotes taken from the“1937 Schools’ Folklore Scheme,” commissioned by the Irish Folklore commission have been transferred to transparencies and re-photographed in the contemporary Irish landscape Some images are also made into a combination portrait, or layered with imagery from historical famine sites and quotes from the Schools’ Folklore Scheme. The quotes give privilege to folk memory and those who attempt to remember this great trauma in Irish history and the illustrations from the Illustrated London News (published between 1845-52) demonstrate the significant changes to the land since then. Simultaneously, the photographic transparency layered over the contemporary landscape becomes a metaphorical device, exploring dislocation and absence.
Traveling Exhibition Dates: spring 2015 – fall 2017
Rental Fee: $1,500 plus round-trip shipping via fine art shuttle or local/regional pick up
Number of works available: 37-48 (239-298 linear feet)
Archival pigment prints mounted on Dibond
Ready-to-hang artwork with French cleats and hardware
Formatted exhibition labels (digital file)
Artist Available to Speak
Exhibition images can be edited at site institution to accommodate space needs
Contact Information: Please contact Craig Hadley with questions or to reserve the exhibition.
DePauw University, Director/Curator of Exhibitions and University Collections