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The Nanny Series: A Postcolonial Reading – Limited Edition Prints

This exhibition combines the use of surrealist painting and postcolonial theory to address issues of gender, work, and motherhood in the lives of domestic workers living in New York City. In The Nanny Series: A Postcolonial Reading, painter, Laura James, and her sister/collaborator, Dr. Sonia James-Wilson explore the ways in which identity is constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed for and by women from former colonies in the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia.

Limited edition prints from this series are available for sale with part of the proceeds donated women’s rights groups.

Each print is signed and numbered, Edition of 250 – Unframed: $250 | Framed: $450

Email [email protected] for ordering information

1. GRANDMOTHER, 2008
Unframed: 20.5″ x 24″ Framed: 26.5″ x 29.5″

1 GrandmotherSigned

2. THE SITTER, 2001
Unframed: 18.5″ x 24″ Framed: 23.5″ x 29.5″

1 TheSitter

3. THE NANNY, 2005
Unframed: 20.5″ x 24″ Framed: 25.5″ x 29.5″

2 NANNY

4. MAYPOLE MOTHER, 2001
Unframed: 19 x 23.75″ Framed: 24″ x 29.25″

3 Maypole Mother

5. THE PARTY, 2002
Unframed: 21.25″ x 23.75″ Framed: 28.25″ x 26″

4 TheParty

6. STROLL, 2005
Unframed: 19″ x 24″ Framed: 24″ x 29.5″

5 STROLL

7. For the Elder Sister, 2005
Unframed: 20″ x 23.75″ Framed: 25.25″ x 29.25″

6 ELDER SIS

8. EXTENDED FAMILY, 2006
Unframed: 17″ x 23.75″ Framed: 22.5″ x 28.75″

7 Extended

9. PROPERTY (FROM THE COLLECTION) OF A GENTLEMAN, 2010
Unframed: 21.5″ x 23.25″ Framed: 26″ x 27.5″

9 PROP OF

10. EVERYBODY KNOWS, 2012
Unframed: 19.25″ x 24″ Framed: 24.5″ x 29.5″

10 Everybody Knows

11. MY LADY, 2013
Unframed: 21.25″ x 24″ Framed: 26″ x 29″

11 MY LADY

12. LONDON FOG, 2014
Unframed: 19.75″ x 23.75″ Framed: 24.75″ x 29.5″

12 LONDON

Domestic Workers Speak

The Nanny Series: A Postcolonial Reading was first presented in 2012 at the International Sociological Association World Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a paper presentation and slide show. On exhibit, high quality reproductions of 12 paintings are hung adjacent to placards with transcribed text from interviews with domestic workers, examples below.


THE SITTER, 2001
"The rope around her neck for me represents the bondage that they like to keep us in. Even though we as women, women of color, where we come from we know about freedom. In this industry they make us feel a sort of way that we are captives; we have to do, and we must do, and wait for that call – ‘come, go, stay, sit, stand.’ And it’s really heartbreaking because I experienced it. You know, many times I know I’m being (sigh) wrongfully abused especially emotionally; because it breaks many of us hearts to know what we have to be going through."
– Pearl (pseudonym), Trinidad

THE PARTY, 2002
"I feel like as a nanny, we are always like clowns, we have to put on a happy face no matter how bad you feel inside, no matter if your crying inside, when you reach the employer’s work you have to be smiling. I think this is a job where you cannot be honest. In another job you can say ‘I’m not having a good day today,’ but as a nanny you have to say ‘Oh yes, I’m happy, I’m having a good day!’ even if your destroyed inside."
– Gabriela (pseudonym), Peru

STROLL, 2005
"I never wanted to be part of a ‘stroller’s congregation.’ These women are solo, they’re deep in their thoughts, they haven’t looked at each other yet; it happens a lot. I don’t know if it’s shame, which I felt personally. ‘Is that all you can do?’ No, that’s not all I can do, I didn’t leave Trinidad to do nanny work. You came here, you didn’t have certain stuff, it was a means to an end, you have to take care of your children."
– Carla (pseudonym), Trinidad

"In this picture everyone is so sad but it was a joyous occasion for me to get out of the employers house."
– Darlene (pseudonym), Barbados

"I don’t see any communication between the nannies, which is a crisis in the domestic worker community. Even though we’re isolated we make it worse by not extending ourselves."
– Pearl (pseudonym), Trinidad

PROPERTY (FROM THE COLLECTION) OF A GENTLEMAN, 2010
"Picking up on what Carla said, she never would bring her daughter to the job, but I look at the other side also. I think it’s very important for the child to see what the mother is doing; how she’s making the money to support her. It’s not easy, the job that we are doing. Now we live in a society where we give the kids whatever they ask, and they don’t know how we make the money… how much effort we put in the job. That’s the other side."
– Gabriela (pseudonym), Peru

MY LADY, 2013
"This woman is shining and making sure these things are dust free and her pay can’t even begin to compare with these ornaments that she’s cleaning. And she is on her knees. And there are workers who would tell you, the woman would say to her, ‘You could clean the bathroom, the grout in the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush?’ I mean you hear that today! She said, ‘Did you clean the bathroom? Did you use the toothbrush as I told you to use the toothbrush?’

So here this woman is on her knees, a longing again. ‘Do I have to do this?’ I mean, how low could you go?’ As you said Gloria all work is valuable, and dignified as long as you’re getting a decent wage, and this is what our fight, Domestic Workers United is about."
– Carla (pseudonym), Trinidad

Archival Print Editions by Art Cloners
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