“21 LESSONS on Freedom, Love, and Money by the Late Mary Ellen Pleasant” is a meditation on living a good life. Created by Cheryl Patrice Derricotte during her 2021 Paper Machine Residency, the book pairs the artist’s contemporary musings with Mary Ellen Pleasant’s 19th century wisdom and sharp wit. Around 1850, Mary Ellen Pleasant left her home in the Northeast by steamship, traveling down through New Orleans, onward around South America and ultimately arriving in California, a free state. During the Gold Rush era, she became the richest Black woman in San Francisco. A staunch abolitionist, she said that all she wanted on her tombstone was that “She was a friend of John Brown.”
Cheryl Derricotte is a visual artist and her favorite mediums are glass and paper. Originally from Washington, DC, she lives and makes art in San Francisco, CA. Her art has been featured in the New York Times, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle, MerciSF and the San Francisco Business Times. Her work is in the permanent collections of the deYoung Museum, the Oakland Museum of California and the National Association of Homebuilders. Cheryl holds a B.A. in Urban Affairs (Minor: History), Barnard College, Columbia University; the Master of Regional Planning, Cornell University and the Master of Fine Arts, California Institute of Integral Studies.