Peter Hoffmeister

Francis Cudjoe
2019
Ceramic, graphite, LEDs
72" x 25" x 72"

Located in the first floor bedroom of the Dyckman Farmhouse, these lantern sculptures illuminate the name Francis Cudjoe. Because of poor record keeping, there is a paucity of information about the enslaved African Americans who lived and worked at the Dyckman estate. Cudjoe is one of the few who is identified by name, yet there is little else known about him besides the fact that he was an enslaved man of African descent who was “owned” by the Dyckman family and then freed in 1809 at the age of 40. Cudjoe requested that Jacobus Dyckman sign an official document stating that he was being manumitted (released from slavery). This paper is the only remaining evidence of Cudjoe’s existence. The reason Cudjoe was freed is uncertain, although in the document Dyckman wrote, “on consideration of motive of humanity.” It is worth noting that many owners freed slaves who were ill or unable to perform their duties, which is a possibility historians have suggested in this case.
Ground Revision