Elizabeth M. Webb is an artist and filmmaker originally from Charlottesville, Virginia. A bearing tree is a witness; an oak is an echo examines her relationship with former plantation land–remarkably located near The Jule–once settled by and subsequently inherited by her ancestors on either side of the “color line,” both Black and White. She researched field notes and plat maps from the Lee County Archives to chronicle the complex and layered relationships between social and natural histories in the area.
Those field notes, which “use trees to visualize an imaginary grid and create property boundaries,” appear in fragile porcelain alongside familial oral histories and historic documents. These sculptures, paired in conversation with Audubon etchings, convey the same plant life, claimed and categorized in similar times, as scientific reflections of property.
Contemporary prints result from the convergence of soil drawn from the former plantation land of her ancestors and U.S. Department of Agriculture maps; and a 16mm film of that land is buried along the historic property boundary by the artist. Covering the celluloid with soil produces chemical reactions as if tinting evidence of the property’s past. Taken together, the works in the show invite us to think connectively across time.