Hazel Orme's Troubles - Part 2


Hazel Orme's Troubles (work in progress)

Work in progress images

I just returned from a trip to the east coast. I visited the former Pennsylvania Training School for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Children in Media, PA. I am grateful for the time and history shared with me. I am learning how common these institutions were in our history across the U.S. I will have many places to visit. (See UVM Study on Eugenics in U.S.)

I am continuing to follow the life of Hazel Orme in 1902 Indianapolis. (Please take a look at my earlier post, “Hazel Orme’s Troubles – Part 1”, for details so far.) I recently completed a painting, Colony for the Poor and Feebleminded, about Hazel Orme and the 1927 U.S. Supreme Court decision Buck v. Bell (274 U.S. 200) which upheld forced sterilization in the United States. I have a new work in progress which expands on Hazel Orme - Hazel Orme’s Troubles. The title comes from a 1902 newspaper article of the same name from The Indianapolis Journal (See newspaper article below). This is a mixed media work on paper with sculptural elements that will be developing. I started this on Veteran’s Day and the initial structure developed into a U.S. flag – the one with 45 stars (Link to some Wikipedia U.S. Flag history). I also have been looking at charts and symbols used to categorize individuals in the eugenics system (See the "Key to Heredity Chart" below). Some of these will end up in the composition.

Before I started researching this area, I generally associated eugenics with the Nazis. I am learning about the large role the United States had in the birth and development of eugenics and its welcome integration into our society. I am looking for parallel cases today. In the early 2000’s, “at least 39 female inmates at California prisons underwent sterilizations in which the women’s ‘informed consent’ was in question.” (See LA Times article). The State Auditor of California issued its report on the sterilizations in 2014 (See CA Auditor Report below). In November 2017, a Tennessee judge was reprimanded for a standing order trading 30 days reduced jail time to inmates in exchange for undergoing vasectomy (men) or 3 yr. birth control implant (women). (See BBC article below).

This piece will be developing. More info and images to come.