Jasmine Sanders

  • A family in Indianapolis, ca. 1915. Photo: J.C. Patton.


    WERE SHE INCLINED TO SPEAK, the doll would be capable of narrating all of history. In the second half of the twentieth century, Barbie Millicent Roberts soared to become the beau ideal of midcentury femininity and commercialism, her proportions nonviable and mass-produced. Raggedy Anns and Andys, peddled alongside accompanying picture books, demonstrated early the profitability of pairing literature with merchandising. The Cabbage Patch children, with their interchangeable moon faces, incited riots in 1983, inaugurating the American grotesquerie that would become annual Black Friday sales.

  • Aaron Hicks, Visitation, 1998, lacquer and acrylic on canvas, 36 × 30".

    Image Conscious

    I WAS RAISED BY MY GRANDMOTHER in the Robert Taylor Homes, a housing project on Chicago’s South Side, but frequently stayed at the home of my aunt Rosemary Jarrett, my grandmother’s oldest daughter. When my adoption was finalized, my birth certificate and other documents indelibly amended, my aunt became, legally, my sister, a novel relation that would be indispensable, steadying. 

    My aunt had back then a marvelously filthy mouth, supplemented by a full and ribald laugh. She inherited from her mother a talent for entertaining, as well as an exuberant, maximalist approach to the adornment of self