You've Got to be Carefully Taught

Using textiles, You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught unpacks minstrel lyrics handed down over decades, and follows their progression into nursery rhymes, educational tunes and folk songs still taught and sung to this day.

A textile blackboard presents the day's lesson to a 'classroom' of  vintage children's clothing with hand stitched lyrics from original blackface minstrelsy and the more common children's versions we know today.  A ghostly reminder of subversive, systemic learning of American 'values'.


This project is possible through a grant from the New York Council of the Arts. 





Up Cycled Fabric

Shanah Warrick, a local fashion and textile designer, has been kind enough to give me her remnants of beautiful silk organza, toile, and other fabrics.  


Free Motion Stitching

The fabric bits are sandwiched between water soluble fabric and free motion stitched in order to create a new textile.


New Textile

After washing the machine stitched fabric, the sections are then sewn together creating one large textile.

Multiple textures are married together creating a foundation for the exhibit's message.


'Writing' on the chalkboard

After writing the lyrics on dissolvable fabric, they are then free motion stitched onto the blackboard.


Getting the look

The blackboard is once again washed removing the dissolvable fabric leaving lettering with chalk like appearance.  


Blackboard with lyrics

Measuring 87"x40" the blackboard is to scale.  A sleeve will be added to the back to house lightweight pipe so the it can be suspended.


Hand stitch on garments

Original minstrel lyrics hand stitched on period correct child's garment.

Red thread represents the red of the American flag.


Turkey in the Straw

Original lyrics circa 1830's from Turkey in the Straw.


Zippity Do Dah

The original title to Zippity Do Dah was Old Zip Coon with the chorus 'O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day'.