Thursday, February 19, 2009

Embroidered art

When I was a little girl, decades ago, I had a few boxes of embroidered handkerchiefs. Each day, my mother would pin one to my dress and if I needed to wipe my nose or hide some tears at school I would unpin it and use it. Washing each handkerchief by hand, and ironing and folding it precisely in a triangle to reveal the embroidered flower, butterfly or day of the week for display on my dress, was among the many rituals I had with my mother to learn the "skills" of being a female.

I had not thought about my handkerchiefs until I stumbled upon Joetta Maue's work "So Tired" [from 2007, right], one piece in the Gallery Hanahou's exhibition, "Forget Me Not" on embroidery art. Maue's use of a found linen embellished with additional embroidery spoke to me, a much older woman now whose "body is sometimes so tired." Also, I recalled I did needlepoint and embroidery as a teenager [with my symbol, a planet and a star, stitched onto my blue jeans. I still have the leftover threads.] and am aware of the history of women doing needle arts.

Maue, 30, a photographer, fiber artist and yoga instructor, from Brooklyn, says "the piece always breaks my heart a little, and almost always rings true." She says that when she does embroidery she feels connected to its history and the women who did it prior. "The re-working of the linen works as a collaboration with the women before me," she says. She became interested in artful stitchery because embroidery allowed her to work slowly and meditatively, helping her bring to closure the theme of trauma that had been in her art before. Her first needle-based work was "On My Sleeve" [below] from 2006. She became hooked. Other projects are on her website. "Working with fiber and thread feels like coming home," she says.

I thank Maue for bringing me home, too.

(Credit to Boing Boing on 2/18, for highlighting the work of Sarah Horton and bringing my attention to the Gallery Hanahou show. )

1 comment:

  1. thank you so much. Your story and your words are just wonderful.
    I am so glad that I could inspire you and remind you of such a special memory.