Go back

APSU art professor develops project ‘For Vivian'

Moved by the tragedy of a little girl named Vivian in the 1920s, Barry R. Jones, assistant professor of art at Austin Peay State University, has developed a video and net art installation about the childs true story, centering on the themes of innocence and potential.

The department of art and The Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts present For Vivian, a video exhibit that can be seen until Feb. 19 at Trahern Gallery on campus. The project also is a Web installation, which can be accessed at www.forvivian.net.
Moved by the tragedy of a little girl named Vivian in the 1920s, Barry R. Jones, assistant professor of art at Austin Peay State University, has developed a video and net art installation about the child's true story, centering on the themes of innocence and potential.

The department of art and The Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts present “For Vivian,” a video exhibit that can be seen until Feb. 19 at Trahern Gallery on campus. The project also is a Web installation, which can be accessed at www.forvivian.net.

“For Vivian” addresses society's treatment of those who suffer from a mental illness, said Jones, whose daughter, Marlena, helped to create the exhibit.

“I have always been incredibly moved by their tragedy, even more so now that I have a daughter of my own,” he said. “I cannot imagine how someone can look at a little girl and see anything but wonder and potential. Unfortunately, someone was able to look at Vivian and see something else.”

When Carrie Buck's illegitimate daughter, Vivian, was born, the usual uproar of promiscuity was heightened by the fact that Carrie's mother, Emma Buck, was at the time a resident at the Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and Feebleminded. For almost a year, Carrie and baby Vivian were left alone.

That changed when an American Red Cross relief worker noticed something about Vivian that didn't seem normal. Since the worker was aware of Carrie's family having low intellect, she assumed the worst and reported her observations to superiors.

It was concluded that Vivian most likely would share her mother's and grandmother's defective traits of “feeblemindedness” and “sexual promiscuity,” Jones said. A legal effort to sterilize Carrie Buck was mounted.

Following days of tests and courtroom testimony, a judge ordered Vivian's mother sterilized to prevent her from giving birth to other defective children. On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that decision.

“These facts were enough for the Supreme Court to suggest her life was not worth living,” Jones said.

Carrie Buck was sterilized before noon, Oct. 19, 1927. Vivian lived with her foster parents, who also raised her mother, until she died at the age of 8.

For more information about “For Vivian,” contact Jones by telephone at (931) 221-7330 or by e-mail at jonesb@apsu.edu. -- Melony Leazer