For over a year I have been working on illustrations and doing research on a graphic novel about the colonial migration to New England. What started with being inspired by one book led to questions and reading several other books. As David Hackett Fischer puts it in his book Albion's Seed, I attempted to braid many narratives together, inquiring about different aspects of the New England migration of the 1630's. Ultimately I am left with much more I would like to add, an infinite project. But after over a year of working on the project, the final project is soon to be published and printed. This statement is about taking ownership of the final product; excuse the excessive use of the word I.

 Title: The two most difficult parts of the project was thinking of an ending and creating a title. I am not a historian. I could only imagine what a trained historian might criticize the project for, how I failed to mention something important, or how the illustrations led to a false impression. I suppose all I would have to say is that they're right; history is a very subjective subject, there is no final word on the matter. I’m an artist not a legalist and I’m comfortable with ambiguities. All I can say is that I wanted to take my time and learn from my sources and not tell a story that based on some personal agenda. It drives me a bit crazy to use non-fiction text as it implies some kind of truth, when I'm left feeling that there is no complete answer. The images give a dreamy connotation, hence the title An American Dream.

Sources: My initial inspiration was the book Generations a very engaging work that draws from many aspects to create a synthesis about generational cycles. The book left me with many questions, so I started reading other books that take on history from the more traditional methodologies. I don't particularly care whether the book is true or not, the illustrations do have some connotation to the book, but I let the text be dominated by other sources. Ultimately I see the generational concept as a beautiful theory. The concept is bold enough to give a broader context, but it’s a beginning to understanding, rather than an ending. For me, the illustrations and generational concept is more of a Plutonic way of trying to describe the situation while the other sources were a more Aristotelian, if I can device the most diplomatic way of seeing them reconciled.

Alan Taylor’s book American Colonies was a very important source for me, especially concerning the Native Americans. As I put to together the words and the text, it was very difficult subject matter and based on some of the lectures I’ve watched of his, I felt like that was exactly the point, the challenge to acknowledge some very difficult truths. I will spare you any further reviews of the sources I used, but you can see them listed below.

 As I worked through the sources and matched illustrations with words and not one to turn to for guidance (which I could not find anyone to give me a response about the content) I was left to contemplate the philosophy behind the combinations. Ronald Barthes’ Mythologies was what put me best at ease. Although philosophy can be a dense topic, it reminded me that what I was creating was ultimately subjective and maybe I didn’t need to get so bogged down on what was true, I tried my best.

Historical Figures: Part of this project included combining the biographies of several historical figures that were part of the New England migration in the 1630’s and incorporating broader sociological and environmental factors that related to their lives. I wanted to be as diplomatic as possible. Certainly people like to come down on judgments of different figures, were they moral or hypocrites, were they good or evil. I wanted to leave it as much an ambiguous paradox as I could. I never knew these people, I wanted to let the art show substance but not leave the character of any of these figures anything definitive. The Puritan/Algonquian relations as well as the involvement of slavery in the 17th century were certainly very challenging things to grapple with and can't say many of the figures come out looking too rosy, it all felt like a struggle. These historical figures were not my wordy pals. I saw them more as acquaintances and it was difficult to come to some kind place where I was being fair but not sugar coating anyone in American exceptionalism. For me, it was about looking about these figures and the colonization within a world history context, to accept the difficult nature that surrounds the teleology behind the Anglo-American founding of the United States.

Sources

Armstrong, Karen. The Bible: A Biography Grove Press, 2008.

Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. Hill and Wang, 1997.

 Bunker, Nick. Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and their World, a new story.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.

Cressy, David. Literacy and the Social Order: Reading and Writing in Tudor and Stuart England. Cambridge England.: Cambridge UP, 1980.

Deetz, James. The times of their lives: life, love and death. New York: W H Freeman and Company, 2000.

Elliot, J.H. Empires of the Atlantic World. Yale University Press, 2006.

Freeman, David Hawke. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Perennial, 1989

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed. Oxford Univserity Press, 1989.

Hashaw, Tim. The birth of black America: the first African Americans and the pursuit of freedom at Jamestown. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2007.

Macdougall, Douglas. Frozen Earth: The Once and Future Story of Ice Ages. University of California Press, 2004.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: a story of courage, community, and war. Waterville, Me: Thorndike Press, 2006

Rogozinski, Jan. A Brief history of the Caribbean: from the Arakwak and Carib to the Present. New York: Plume, 2000.

Strauss and Howe, William and Neil. Generations.  New York: Broadway Books, 1991.

Taylor, Alan. American Colonies. Penguin Books. 2001.

Taylor, Dale. Everday Life in Colonial America: from 1607 - 1783. Writers Digest Books, 1997.

Treuer, Anton. Atlas of Indian nations. Washington, DC: National Geographic Books, 2013.

Vowel, Sarah. The Wordy Shipmates. New York: Riverhead Books, 2008.

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States: 1492 – Present. Harper Perennial Modern Classic, 2005.

Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.org