The Loves of Aaron Burr:
Portraits in Corsetry & Binding
Loss (December 31, 1812)
In consequence of Burr’s fateful duel with Alexander Hamilton, his trial
for treason and subsequent exile are all thought to have contributed to
his daughter’s increasingly frail health. On June 1812, Theodosia’s son,
Aaron Burr Alston, dies. Of her grief she writes, "omnipotence could give
me no equivalent." Upon Burr’s return from European exile, the possibility
of a reunion with her father compels her to take an ill-fated voyage on
a poorly disguised privateer, The Patriot. The country at war, the seas belonging to Britannia and the Carolina Outer Banks a treacherous pirates’ haven, the thought of anyone boarding a ship to New York City amidst seasonal gales is unthinkable.
Prior to his flight, Burr had entrusted his daughter and confidant with all of
his personal and political correspondence for safe keeping in his absence. Theodosia brought with her the two trunks full, including the documentation
of his legal career, years as Senator, Vice President, and a portentous two volume, handwritten, eye witness account of the American Founding, along with a recent portrait of herself dressed in white. That night a gale rose. Beyond that no more is known, though pirates’ atrocities are suspected.
The journey to New York normally took five to six days. Two weeks after her departure, pacing the Battery and looking to sea, Burr reached the inevitable conclusion. Burr concealed everything that reminded him of Theo and never spoke of her again, he ever quite the same after her loss.
Loss began as an answer to the Morris-Jumel Museum’s Director’s question, in planning this exhibition, as to how to represent what is known to be missing in historic research. What’s missing from archives and research facilities is what’s painful for every historian and researcher, the facts don’t add up to
This corset is a cane boned, empire corset of a linen lawn with a cashmere shrug. Cross written inside the corset are the many different accounts from pirates, naval officers and Nags Head “bankers” of the demise of Theodosia Burr Alston after her December 31, 1812 departure from South Carolina.
The process of the piece started with creating the full white dress and wrap Theodosia wears in “The Nag’s Head Portrait”, cast, with the
sodden correspondence, into the tinted resin that was poured into a
suspended animation. It took the collaborative skills of several people working together, all assigned different tasks. Once the resin was mixed, everyone did their part, until the haze cleared, the resin set, and nothing moved, as if it were destined to happen.
Reference: Burr, Aaron and Theodosia. The Correspondence of Aaron Burr and His Daughter Theodosia. Edited and with a Preface by Mark Van Doren. New York: Covici-Friede Inc., 1929. Cote, Richard. Theodosia Burr Alston: Portrait of a Prodigy. Corinthian Books, 2002.
The Loves Of Aaron Burr:
Portraits in Corsetry & Binding
Drawing connections between her own interpretive work
and the historic corsets exhibited in
Fashioning the Body: An Intimate History of the Silhouette
Camilla Huey will speak on the changing architectural, structural, and functional forms
of corsets, corset-making, materials, and methodologies. The artist employs these
forms in her unique approach to analyzing portraits of nine 18th- and 19th-century women. Through ephemera, fetishism, material culture, and texts, the artist
invites the audience to follow both design and historic research as she explores biographical narrative. She will bring selected works from her exhibition,
The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry & Binding
Preview May 7, 6pm Bard Graduate Center
38 West 86th Street, New York City 10024
$25 RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org
The Premiere of
The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry & Binding Film
with select works from the exhibition at the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Manhattan's oldest house the very place where the lives of these women, filming and exhibition took place.
A reception and screening with discussion to follow.
View the works of Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Colonial Arrangements before.
Premiere May 14, 6pm Morris-Jumel Mansion
65 Jumel Terrace, New York City 10032
$25 RSVP email@example.com
Camilla Huey (artist/couturière) has exhibited artwork at the Bard Graduate Center
and the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City. Her exhibit, The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry & Binding, paid homage to the women who surrounded and influenced this controversial founding father.