The Green Sheaf and Identity Attribution

I appreciated so much about today’s class. I’m so grateful to address alternative Victorian identities and art through the Green Sheaf, and acknowledge the accepted heterogeneity of Victorian history and culture education in academia. This alternative representation doesn’t just fulfill some quota or PC agenda – it contributes so much to our (and my) collective understanding of art history, influence, class relations, and even lifestyle at the time. This semester has shown us interesting intersections of homosexuality or gender and art, but the Green Sheaf‘s Pamela Colman Smith and her work highlights other intersectional identities and issues of cross-nationalism and neurodivergence.

In many cases, when a creator’s identity deviates from the accepted norm, we attribute their success or creativity to these alternative identities, and this can be dangerous. Looking at The Dial as the product of queer making and theĀ Green Sheaf as a product of Smith’s synaesthesia, race, or gender can be problematic when we attribute their genius to their identity. But on the other hand, these identities shape content, and we can see this in Smith’s anansi tales.

I wish we could have learned more about the cross-cultural influences in Smith’s work and expanded our Victorian education this semester by comparing her artistic style with concurrent international movements (this semester, we’ve mentioned Japanese art and Jamaican folklore but haven’t learned much about them other than as influences). What was happening in the rest of the world at the time? I’d like to know more.

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