“Mouth & Toes: The World of 19th-Century Silhouette Artists with Disabilities.” Written by Laurel Daen. Illustrated and Animated by Marianne R. Petit.
This book tells the stories of three artists—Martha Ann Honeywell, Sarah Rogers, and Saunders Ken Grems Nellis—who worked at the intersection of visual art, performance, and disability in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Born with significant physical disabilities, these artists traveled throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe creating and selling silhouettes and performing their unexpected capacities and incapacities for customers. Although rarely remembered today, these artists’ lives and works testify to the power of disability as a source of creative inspiration and profit. Capitalizing on the prejudices and curiosities of their patrons, Honeywell, Rogers, and Nellis made art, traveled the world, and sustained distinguished careers.
Using the medium of the silhouette, this book recounts their remarkable stories and brings to life the fascinating world of art, performance, travel, and disability in which they lived. Meet Charles Willson Peale, the famed proprietor of the Philadelphia Museum where these artists often performed, and Moses Williams, a man enslaved by Peale who cut silhouettes and obtained his freedom. Together with Honeywell, Rogers, and Nellis, travel from museum to museum, exhibition to exhibition, watching as they create art, captivate patrons, and turn a profit.
Mouth and Toes exists as an eBook as well as a physical work—a collection of moving panoramas, printed scrolls, and handheld flip books that tell Honeywell, Rogers, and Nellis’s stories.