038   <   039   >   040       index

The history of lace-making is most interesting. 2

Plate II. (obverse view; cropped from border; levels 0 1.00 240; sharpened one step)
1. St. Joseph and St. Michael. 2. Little Nannie Red Nose and Little Boy Blue. 3. Lucy. Crazy Jane. 4. The Children of the Abbey. 5. Virgin Mary. 6. Mr. Gibson. 7. The Woman Picking up Apples. 8. Skeleton. J. J Jack and Jill. S S. Mr. and Mrs. Hub Smith.
ex Arrah B. Evarts (1878-1968). “A Lace Creation Revealing an Incest Fantasy.” Psychoanalytic Review. Vol. V. (1918) : 364-380
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Historical Medical Library copy, no date of digitization

epigram ex p 364

Evarts’s explication of Virginia’s (“Virginia, as we shall call her”) lace is remarkable. Much background information is given about Virginia’s earlier years, including the death of her mother and, notably, her sleeping together with a brother and her father (until the age of 13), the father’s violence, etc. And yet incest is characterized as a “fantasy” — it is not taken as a likelihood or even possibility. Virginia does not marry, but affairs with several men (“father figures”) are discussed, as are episodes of prostitution. The entire account is fascinating, disturbing, moving. And it is quite readable. Virginia becomes a permanent inmate of St. Elizabeths (no apostrophe), where she oscillates between periods of clarity and withdrawal/slowness. After making the lace shown in these two posts, she retreats into several months of quiet, but emerges later to discuss them in detail with the author.

From Evart’s account, Virginia strikes this reader, 100+ years later, as a woman born in the wrong time, and channeled into the wrong institutional setting.

Virginia was Adelaide V. Hall, discussed (and referenced, plus a color image of one side of the lace) at The Oddment Emporium. Referenced there is Michael Little his “Lunatic Fringe : Stitching together the life of D.C.’s visionary Lace Maker” (about Hall and Evarts) in the Washington City Paper (May 21, 2004); it can be consulted via the Wayback Machine.

23 October 2015

Adelaide V. Hall; lace; A. B. Evarts; E. J. Kempf