I presented a lecture about my artistic practice at the De Halve Maen to KLM: 400 Years of Dutch-American Exchange conference in Albany, New York on June 6, 2006
Organized by the New Netherlands Institute
Sotheby’s Dutch kas(t) circa 1689
“Not only an integral part of almost every family home who could afford any type of valuables in the Netherlands in the 17th century, but also to the early settlers in the New World who brought with them this piece of furniture, the ‘kas’ or ‘kast’ stands even today relatively alone as an all-encompassing symbol of Dutch materialistic possession, property and general prosperity.” (Kamil, Of American Kasten and the Mythology of “Pure Dutchness”) Part of the ‘uitzet’ or dowry of a woman given in marriage, her worth or value was placed and contained in this object and moved house along with the bride. The 17th century ‘kast’ was produced in the Netherlands and was an important product/statement of Dutch wealth, design and identity, a symbol of Dutch cultural currency. Upon emigration, if one were wealthy, it was shipped to colonial America, or if one were poor, less intricate copies were made in the colony. The passage of the immigrant and the mutability of assimilation and adaption parallels the kasts’ emigration to America- the Dutch ‘kast’ has been adapted to the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam, or N.Y. “The American kas (or kast) has been perceived as synonymous, indeed almost inextricably intertwined, with the material life of early New York. Such an enduring relation has only served to exacerbate a curious process of mystification about the “Dutchness” of New York.” (Kamil, ibid)
The New Netherland Project was established under the sponsorship of the New York State Library and the Holland Society of New York. Its primary objective is to complete the transcription, translation, and publication of all Dutch documents in New York repositories relating to the seventeenth-century colony of New Netherland. This unique resource has already proven invaluable to scholars in a wide variety of disciplines. It also serves to enhance awareness of the major Dutch contributions to America over the centuries and the strong connections between the two nations. The Project is supported by the New York State Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the New Netherland Institute.