MEDITATIONS AND SYSTEMS
I have a collection of linens that was passed on to me by my mother. These linens belonged to my great-aunt Martha, who was a favorite relative when my mother was a child. Aunt Martha had a flamboyant streak and was disapproved of by my grandparents. My mother loved it when she came to visit, wearing furs, arriving in a taxi and bearing extravagant gifts. She was an opera singer, performing for a time on cruise ships, and married a wealthy businessman. It was likely during this period that she purchased some of the hand embroidered linens I now own. Unfortunately Aunt Martha was swindled out of her fortune after her husband died, and ended up poor in San Francisco, working as a corsetiere.
I wanted to incorporate these various napkins, place mats and other linens into my work but struggled for a long time to find a way to both honor and transform them. I thought about the way that such handmade textiles connect me to my ancestors. I thought of how my grandmother also did handwork, and how her frugality led her to darn and patch both cloth and clothing, and how she made use of all manner of yarns and threads, crafting blankets and other decorative items even though she did not consider herself talented or artistic. I thought of the centering process of stitching, and how I have come to make this more and more a part of my work.
On a trip to Europe I became fascinated with the geometric patterning of floors and walls, particularly in the mosques of Istanbul. In reading about this tradition of Arabic design I was particularly struck by an observation that Islamic decorative art does not seek to showcase individual self-expression, but to use the practice of designing the pattern as a means to spiritual experience. This was a powerful concept to me, for although I am not religious I seek clarity and peace in my daily walks in the woods. Walking is my meditation, and during this time I observe the details of my environment and think about the people, past and present, who give meaning to my life.
Somehow these disparate lines of thought came together for me and resulted in the series of pieces here.