In her office that opens to a private second floor porch hangs a painting of a mother and daughter by a
Georgia artist, which reminds Vicki of the closeness she and Mattie share. A second piece, made from butterfly
wings, is also from Africa. Another framed work, an image of a little girl, was purchased at a marketplace in
Charleston, South Carolina. Vicki describes it as “my education.”
The market is on the site of Charleston’s infamous slave block, so the art evokes for the family a story
about Elder’s mother, who at the age of six traveled from Jackson, Mississippi, with her own mother and
siblings in the back of an animal truck after Vicki’s grandmother had a frightening encounter with two white
men who attacked her. Vicki and James are planning a two-day visit to the National Museum of African
American History in Washington, D.C. this fall. “Our past is emotional, but it has to be remembered.”
A former bedroom on the second floor has become an exercise studio and opens onto a porch overlooking
the back yard. James has his own space, which also includes a second-story porch.
The kitchen was completely gutted and now features a handsome glass tile backsplash, carefully installed
by the intrepid Vicki. She later repeated her handiwork in Mattie’s first-floor kitchen, using ceramic tile that
complements the color of brickwork on the home’s foundation. The original leaded glass panels were left intact
in the front and dining rooms on the first and second floors, and Vicki added etched glass panels to the doors
next to each front room’s fireplace.
Two years ago, the transformation project on the first floor began, and is nearly finished. Vicki hired workers
to remove a wall between the two back bedrooms to provide a large and quiet space for Mattie. The wall color of
the dining room is inspired by a seafoam green blouse that Vicki thinks looks particularly pretty on her mother.
36 FALL 2018 | WWW.SHAKER.LIFE