Rosendale, NY: Women's Studio Workshop, 2022. Octavo. (12)ff., + central clay figure bound in. One of 52 copies, signed by the artist. 11033 is an emotionally and historically profound depiction of the trauma of incarceration, especially for mothers, and Black women. Crawley here considers the specific narrative of Mary Morst, a Black woman in the Virginia State Penitentiary in 1921. Poetics of language and form, of archival artifacts and imagined authorship, of despair and hope, combine to shed light on Morst's experience as a woman of color and as a mother of twin children born behind bars. Surrounding the weighty central clay profile of a pregnant woman are pages, some in the same silhouette, embedded with copies of archival documents: newspaper clippings, letters, and pardon applications. The paper is fragile, layered, and rough; the book as a whole is a tender object, resilient yet breakable, able to stand on its own and yet designed to be stored flat. Letterpress and silkscreen printed atop the sublimated documentation is a fictional letter from Morst to her children; it is likewise vulnerable yet strong, independent yet dependent, just as motherhood, and particularly motherhood in confinement, is.
The interior handmade paper is of flax, abaca, kozo, and cotton. Bound in black wrappers designed to look like prison bars; when the book stands, it offers a clear depiction of a jailed mother, and the binding's fragility against the clay silhouette's fortitude is a powerful statement of justice. Held in a bag of kozo, abaca, and cotton (a nod, certainly, to the residue of slavery that continues to tarnish the American prison system). The top of the bag bears Morst's prison number; the rear bears the colophon. Mint. Item #31448