Somehow, I should be able to merge maps and clothing to represent who we really are: person and place, our physical being and what we're thinking. I keep trying to combine clothing and architecture, too - the idea of constructing ourselves. I keep attempting this, and have never truly succeeded - yet. These three pieces are based on my grandmother, my mother and myself. In each case, the apron-figure is overlaid with a map, a place that is entwined and stitched to the person.
Apron Excavation (50"h x 36"w)
I had dyed an apron dark brown, then rolled it, still-wet, into a white tablecloth. This gave me a print. Then I sewed it over layers of wool which had been cut to represent the streets of Warsaw. My grandmother came from Poland, I don't know where, so I improvised and just used a very stylized map of Warsaw. (If I was actually able to find a map of her town, it would probably only have one road).
Apron Excavation #2 (50"h x 36")
Another print of the brown apron, a bit lighter, and cut out of the tablecloth. My mother was born and raised in Bayonne, NJ, and those (very stylized) streets imprison her apron figure.
Her pockets are full of the minutiae and religion that made up her life.
Apron Excavation #3 (50"h x 36"w)
Here's the actual apron that was printed on the other 2 maps. Here, the section of Passaic where I live has been mapped onto my apron figure. The green (vaguely boot-shaped) section is the local park. And while my life is made of the same minutiae as my mother's, it has more color, and a lot more freedom.
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