In 2002, a small, timeworn leather trunk was discarded for garbage on a sidewalk in Lower Manhattan; it was found replete with the cherished keepsakes of a 19th century New York City woman.
Thus began visual artist Stacy Renee Morrison’s self-proclaimed love affair with Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander, whose early life parallels that of Gertrude Tredwell, who lived at 29 East 4th Street.
For almost two decades, Morrison has been on an obsessive quest to weave together Sylvia’s life in the 19th century through the personal belongings she left behind — and to re-imagine it in today’s world through art and fashion.
Sylvia’s trunk and its treasured contents will be featured in the exhibit Sylvia: A 19th Century Life Unveiled, from Thursday, January 30 through Monday, May 4, at the Merchant’s House Museum in New York City. On display will be an invitation in 1860 to a ball honoring the Prince of Wales, letters from the Civil War, Sylvia’s journals, mourning jewelry made of human hair, paper dolls, and other ephemera. Photographs and screen-printed clothing illustrate Sylvia’s life in the present as the artist’s muse.
Stacy Renee Morrison is a visual artist who often forgets what century it is. She finds herself haunted by women who lived their lives well before her own and creates visual biographies of their pasts. When Stacy is fully present in the 21st century she teaches in the BFA Photography and Video Department and MFA Visual Narrative Departments at School of Visual Arts in New York City.
The exhibition will run through May 4, 2020 and is included with regular museum admission. The Merchant’s House Museum is located at 29 East 4th Street
New York. More information is available on the Merchant’s House Museum website.
Photo of Perfume bottles found in Sylvias trunk provided.