Janet Taylor Pickett created these amazing paintings, which I saw at the Morris Museum in NJ. Her use of dresses as powerful symbols really resonated with me - so much of my art deals with clothing. In her great show at the Montclair Museum, she morphed dresses into architecture (something I will never do as successfully as she does, but I keep trying).
I found a dress shape, and used it to experiment with photos of some of my older art. I knew I wanted a lighter dress shape on a darker (more menacing) background. In my Tsunami piece, I had used keys and keyholes to represent homes, and decided to repeat that motif here. I discharged key shapes onto dark fabrics and sewed together a dark, map-like background. Then I took my old nightgown...
...and used my trusty photoshop to add lighter patches with printed keyhole images.
Security (2012 or 2013...not sure) 70"h x 42"w
This is the epitome of anxious fear. Her whole body/dress is an inward clutch. The background keys and the dress keyholes have a sexual connotation and the ripped sections of the dress suggest violence.
Her fear is embedded in her: safety pins and garter clips, clothespins and even salad tongs try to hold her safe. Which brings us to...
Never Enough (2013) 74"h x 28"w
No, no matter how hard we try, we will never be truly, absolutely safe...and we will buy any device that promises that safety. I have a theory: in past generations past, we saw actual, real people more than we saw printed images of people. Now, we see hundreds of perfect photo-bodies for every real person we encounter, and our perception of beauty has been warped by the disconnect. In the same way, we no longer endure the horrors of war, famine and pestilence, but we are inundated with images and stories of every possible catastrophe every minute of the day.
Maybe that's why we're so fearful. We cling tightly..
..and our heads explode with passwords, PINs, codes and combinations. it will never be enough.
If you're interested in the process, take a look:
The white background is constructed with lengths of snaps and zippers, and the hanging rod is built into the top of this fairly heavy piece.
The earliest writing was impressed into clay tablets. I enjoyed trying to copy some of the cuneiform with embroidery, but then realized that these forms were pressed INTO the clay, not written ON it. So I tried some reverse applique (like the technique used in molas). Not exactly what I wanted, but I do like the stark color contrast. I later developed a complicated reverse embedded lettering technique (which I'll describe in a future blog) which would be great for this. Also, learned that most cuneiform tablets were actually small enough to fit in your hand...somehow, I'd always pictured them as 8.5 x 11
Galgolitic script. It was created by St Cyril in the 9th century, and I found it online! (I don't understand why people watch cat videos when there is such an amazing amount of fascinating information - and images! - to see). I just had to try embroidering the rounded, looping letter forms.
As a child, I struggled with the Palmer Method. My curved letters were often illegible. But Palmer had been developed as an easier form of handwriting - something everyday people could use. Before Palmer, Spencerian Script was the elegant form for handwriting. And before that were various forms of Copperplate. Today, penmanship is no longer being taught in many schools. And handwritten invitations and thank you notes are no longer sent by mail.
Years ago, when I taught art to small children, I explained that SERIFS were like tiny mittens and shoes for your letters. Diacritical marks? fancy jewelry on your ABCs...
Many colonial schoolgirls learned to sew (and to hate sewing) by creating samplers. I would have received low grades for my sloppy cross stitch on this sampler.