Wampum and Noepe 2017: four drawings made on Martha’s Vineyard, called Noepe, ‘land amid the streams,' by local Wampanoag Indians. Wampanoag are the original producers of wampum, polished clam shells of a beautiful violet-lavender-indigo, which are currency and barter, a valuable record of tribal pacts and history, tribal status and personal identification. When the white man figured out how to dye and polish white shells they flooded the market with false wampum causing inflation and the end of wampum as early American history and currency.
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell.
In nature, evolution is aided by asemic design as camouflage and communication. Man uses design to his own end.
These drawings have been named Wampum and Noepe for several reasons: a study by the Martha's Vineyard Commission found that the cost of living on the island is 60% higher than the national average, and housing prices are 96% higher. There are 15,000 inhabitants on Martha's Vineyard swelling to 100,000 in summer. An army of an extra 25,000 imported workers service the vacationing wealthy. Corporations, like Dunkin Doughnuts, receive tax breaks for workers who share houses and sleep four to a room. The island is accessible only by air or boat. 56% of homes are used a few weeks of the year. Locals struggle for housing and year-round employment. Beaches and certain lands are restricted or private.
I lived and worked on the island for five weeks and recorded my many jaw-dropping jobs and a 75-year-old local man on the island commission speaking about the gross inequality and his personal creative solutions, called Welcome (to the underbelly of the beast) in editing.
Arriving from the bloated, military industrial complex economy of the San Francisco Peninsula, I became aware of this particularly nasty recreational wave of the future, pushing people further into the riptide separating the exceptionally wealthy from the extremely indigent.
All drawings are lanaquarelle paper, gouache, watercolor, ink, graphite, personal rubber stamps. 9 x 12 in., 23 x 30.5 cm.
Cecelia Chapman is an artist working with still and moving images. Her videos "Fear Don't Knock" and "Message4u" have been featured on dotswave tv, London. Italy's Utsanga Press has featured her asemic drawings. Her work has appeared in Unlikely Stories since 2004. Check out her web site at CeceliaChapman.com.