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Listen to Marilyn Nelson Read her Poems from
The Freedom Business: Connecticut Landscapes Through the Eyes of Venture Smith

on view through June 24, 2007

Visit the Calendar for related programs.

NelsonThe Freedom Business features poems by Connecticut’s Poet Laureate Marilyn Nelson that were inspired by the life of Venture Smith (c. 1729-1805), a former slave who purchased his freedom and that of his wife and children.

The poems are paired with paintings from the Museum’s collection to help visitors imagine the landscapes in which Venture traveled, toiled, and eventually triumphed.  By using the very personal media of art and poetry, the exhibition offers an intimate approach to a complex period in Connecticut and American history.

Many thanks to Ira Sakolsky at Riverway Studio and Geoff Cox at NetNoise for their help in bringing these poems to the web. Many thanks also to Marilyn Nelson's publisher, Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, for permission to use these poems in the exhibition and on the Web site. The poems will be published in the forthcoming book, The Freedom Business: A Life of Venture Smith by Marilyn Nelson and Venture Smith (Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, 2008).

How I came by my name
This poem, shown without a Connecticut painting, reminds us that Venture Smith’s story begins in Africa, before his capture, and transport to America.
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Whispered Plans (c.1751)
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Gregory Smith (1880-1960) Moonlight, c. 1914
Oil on canvas, 32 x 40 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
MEG
after Leopold Senghor
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Emil Carlsen, Night, Old Windham, 1904
Oil on canvas, 50 1/2 x 40 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Fat on the Fire (1752)
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Bruce Crane (1857-1937) The Red Barn, 1920
Oil on artist board, 17 x 21 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of Mr. Charles T. Clark
December Moonrise
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Clark Greenwood Voorhees (1871-1933)
December Moon Rise, c. 1908
Oil on canvas, 28 1/4 x 36 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Work-Song
Dessar
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Louis Paul Dessar (1867-1952) The Wood Chopper, 1906
Oil on canvas, 28 x 36 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of Mr. Fenton L.B. Brown
Aubade (1768)
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Charles Ebert (1873-1959) Winter Evening, n.d.
Oil on canvas, 21 x 28 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Sailing to Saybrook (c.1766)
River Island
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Allen Butler Talcott (1867-1908)River Island, c. 1900
Oil on wood panel, 16 x 20 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Cows in the Shade (c. 1770)
Volkert, In the Shade
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Edward C. Volkert (1873-1935) In the Shade, n.d.
Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches
Florence Griswold Museum;
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Sap Rising
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Dawson-Dawson Watson (1864-1930) Early Morning on the Farmington, c. 1894
Oil on canvas, 22 x 18 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Mingo
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Charles Davis (1856-1933 )Hillside Road, Mystic, Connecticut, 1924
Oil on canvas, 20 x 27 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Farm Garden
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Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910) A Farmer’s Garden in Simsbury, 1875
Oil on canvas, 15 x 9 5/8 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
The Incident of the Clams (c.1785)
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Charles Davis (1856-1933)
Twilight over the Water, 1892
Oil on canvas, 13 x 21 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Freedom Business (c. 1790)
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Edward Rook (1870-1960) Laurel, c. 1905-1910
Oil on canvas, 40 1/4 x 50 1/4 inches
Florence Griswold Museum
Gift of The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company