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Oral History: HORTENSE WILLIAMS POWELL
Artist: Anya Semenova
Title: Memory Case, 2015, glass, steel hinge & hardware, adhesive , 4”x 7.5”x 12”

Oral History: HORTENSE WILLIAMS POWELL
Artist: Anya Semenova
Title: Memory Case, 2015, glass, steel hinge & hardware, adhesive , 4”x 7.5”x 12”

“Memory Case” is dedicated to Hortense Williams, an African-American nurse, wife and mother of three. Although she lived her entire life in Newark, she moved through its different neighborhoods. The book was designed to capture constant movement and packing. Its shape evokes two items—a memory box and a suitcase. The piece is interactive—one has to unfold the cover page to see what is inside—but it is also quite heavy. This represents Hortense’s struggles, such as issues with landing a scholarship, difficulties with neighbors, and financial problems. Although her life wasn’t easy, in the interview on which this project was based, Hortense sounded very optimistic, which justifies the book’s mosaic color scheme. Overall, this book was meant to create the sense of who Hortense Williams was, using different approaches of glass modification and applying multiple visual techniques to its pages.

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