Continuing my study of multiple historical layers, I have started a series incorporating garments found in other countries. The scarf (above) and blanket (left) were dug out in an abandoned old house in Turkey. The vest (right) is from northern Japan - an example of the heavily mended old clothing called 'boro' (rags).
By layering these garments with old quilts, embroideries, crochets, I have placed them in a context of time and place.
Ancient knowledge was preserved on clay tablets. As we progress from punched cards to zip drives, what information will be readable to future generations? Like rotary phones and typewriters (once cutting-edge communication) all equipment becomes obsolete. By disassembling technological devices and sewing the parts tightly under vintage cloth, I am ‘fossilizing’ them – preserving their forms, not in the permanence of clay or stone, but in relatively fragile textiles.
This Too Shall Pass is a series of hundreds of 6” tiles, each mounted on industrial felt.
As a part of daily life, sewing is a dying skill. Expertise that was passed down, mother to daughter, for hundreds of years is now dying out: types of mending are no longer general knowledge, and most young people don’t own a pin cushion. Hence, my work shows textiles in an archaeological context.
In my Fossil Garments series, the work is presented as fossil specimens. The deconstructed garments – sometimes embedded in handmade felt – are offered for inspection on taut surfaces. By carefully cutting apart and arranging the garments, their human connection is emphasized. Crochet and lace, showing through the almost transparent garments, appear skeletal. I used mending techniques in overlapping layers, sometimes obscuring parts of the garments, sometimes cutting through them. The rigid framing exposes the somewhat sentimental clothing in an unemotional perspective, allowing the viewer to examine the clothing as archaeology.
Museums preserve small soft-bodied specimens in liquid-filled mason jars, as double insurance against their drying out.
This inspired me to preserve vintage embroidery and crochet as 'soft specimens' under glass mason jar lids. Girdles and corsets were also 'preserved'.
Textile art created from the clothing found on my neighborhood streets.
My latest work was initially inspired by the telephone poles of San Francisco, which are heavily covered by public notices. Researching, I found an information practice including kiosks, Morris Columns and back to commemorative stone columns. Using my embedded object technique, with many letter forms, I have been exploring public and private information, and the often blurry line between the two. This piece, Kiosk, is an 8ft tall tower. Constructed of salvaged clothing over a wire framework.
Further down, you will see my wall. The sections in progress, then the finished piece and a detail. Wall is 6 ft tall, with a collection of loose blocks at the bottom.
Facts can look like they are carved in stone, until the seams start to fray.At first, this piece seems to be solidly built with engraved blocks: a closer look reveals the old shirts sewn over a variety of lettering.Although not intended as a political statement, the wording on these blocks (sanity, common sense, reality, the truth) read more importantly now than ever before. Fabric is a fragile medium. Will we work to mend and maintain these texts? Are the loose blocks sitting at the bottom waiting to be added to the wall...or have they fallen off?
Ancient clay tablets give us information about our history. My embroidered tablets focus on communication history - on the ways we tell our story. The images are researched, designed, printed on cloth as line drawings, dyed and stitched. Just as clay tablet can be destroyed, knowledge can be lost, and some of the tablets deal with the loss of information. It seems fitting that this is conveyed in (what is viewed as) the much less durable medium of textiles.
As this series progressed, I changed my presentation. The earlier tablets are stretched over rigid composite materials. Later, I used many layers of wool, sewn tightly together, to create a firm backing for the images. This seems to be a more authentic material usage.
Tapestries are the newest stage in my History of Communication. The tiles of This Too Shall Pass held embedded fragments of communication technology. My Tablets ( with their printed, hand-dyed images) told communication stories. These Tapestries are designed in Photoshop, printed by Spoonflower, and then hand sewn. This allows even more detail, with the 34” square size providing a generous canvas.
These Tapestries are still in a beta phase - subject to change in their presentation, even if their content is finished.