There is a small plaque on this quilt which reads: “In memory of Regina Szczepaniak, 1913 – 1984: Her life was spent working in a factory, sewing women’s underwear. She never married, staying to care for her invalid mother."
Regina was my Aunt Reggie. While my mother and her siblings moved out from Bayonne to the suburbs, Reggie stayed behind to care for “Baci” – my grandmother – after she had a stroke. Reggie dropped out of high school to work in the Maidenform factory, helping to support the family after my grandfather died. I remember her as a sweet, kind woman. The bras, which form the framework of this piece, were all donated by my friends and co-workers ( I stood up at a school faculty meeting and asked for old bras. No, thank you, don't need any tighty-whities right now). I disassembled them, dyed and painted them. Photos of Reggie (and thread labels) were transferred to cloth. Old crochet and lace, and salvaged fabric, were dyed and painted and hand sewn onto the purchased velvet background.
This is one of my earliest pieces. My knowledge of dyeing was below minimal (I often used acrylic paint to color fabric). I had no understanding of how to back a piece so it would hang properly. I was still working full time and raising a small child, so art happened only because of compulsive need.
Aunt Reggie as a young woman, probably around World War 2