Raw Material 7: It’s Never Too Late to Mend

May 10, 2016

The night before surgery Sam and Kat took me out to dinner and then Kat went to rehearsal and Sam and I went to Ocean Beach late at night. On the firm wet sand at low tide your footprints register clearly before the waves come and devour all trace of passage. I like to see the long line we each leave behind, and I sometimes imagine my whole life that way, as though each step was a stitch, as though I was a needle leaving a trail of thread that sewed together the world as I went by, crisscrossing others’ paths, quilting it all together in some way that matters even though it can hardly be traced. A meander line sutures together the world in some new way, as though walking was sewing and sewing was telling a story and that story was your life (Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby).

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Photos: Louise Bourgeois from Top to Bottom:  1. The Cell XXVI 2. Rejection 3. Why Have You Run So Far Away? 4. Photograph of Louise Bourgeois by Annie Leibovitz

When I was growing up all the women in my house used needles. I have always had a fascination with the magic power of the needle. The needle is used to repair the damage. It’s a claim to forgiveness.

The act of sewing is a process of emotional repair…You repair the thing until you remake it completely.

Expose a contradiction, that is all you need

(Quotations by Louise Bourgeois)

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Photos: Sean Gyshen Fennell, Fashioning the Facade, http://www.tyrusclutter.com

Looking closer one finds that the artist (Sean Gyshen Fennell) has broken the picture plane. Actual needles and thread are piercing the surface of the work, creating sutures across the artist’s chest and torso. Stitches encircling the artist’s nipples seem at once sensual and painful. They call attention to a highly sensitive area and stir up questions about sexuality. As the chest is pushed together to form cleavage, the artist binds the gap with a seam of cross stitches. Although there appears to be no physical wound here, there is no escaping the concept of healing in this gesture. The placement of the actual needles in the hand of the artist lets us know he is working to heal his own wounds. (Tyrus Clutter on Sean Gyshen Fennell, Fashioning the Facade, June 2010, http://www.tyrusclutter.blogspot.ie)

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Photo: Tilleke Schwarz 1. It Feels Comfy But Will it Last  2. Racing Thoughts,

All my work relates basically to one theme: the oddities of life. The work can be understood as a kind of visual poetry. Every work contains narrative elements. Not really complete stories, with a beginning, a storyline, and an end. On the contrary, the viewer is invited to decipher connections or to create them. (Tilleke Schwarz, http://www.tillekeschwarz.com)

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Photo: Agnes Richter’s Jacket, The Prinzhorn Collection, Personal Writing Embroidered on a Jacket Made from Asylum Uniforms 1890’s

Nothing is known about when or precisely how Agnes created the jacket, except that she seems to have taken apart her shapeless hospital uniform and reconstructed it into a beautiful and elegant garment. The delicate buttonholes, the cuffs flaring from tightly fitted sleeves, and the peplum (a decorative ruffle attached to the bodice) all offer evidence of her considerable talent as a seamstress. The bluish-grey linen is accentuated by sections of brown felt attached to the collar and parts of the back of the torso. But what makes the jacket so extraordinary and so distinctive are the dozens of lines of text that cover practically every inch, sewn in five colours of yarn and thread that give the impression more of a painting than an everyday garment…. (T)he jacket and its text offer a powerful challenge, reminding us that madness is more code than chemistry, and if we want to understand it, we need native speakers, not just brain scans. (Gail Hornstein, Madness from the Outside In, The Psychologist, British Psychological Society, http://www.thepsychologist.bps.org.uk)

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Photo: Artwork by Laura Jo Pierce,  TEXTile Exhibition, Creative Growth Art Centre Gallery, http://www.creativegrowth.org

A thread now most often means a line of conversation via e-mail or other electronic means, but thread must have been an even more compelling metaphor when most people witnessed or did the women’s work that is spinning. It is a mesmerizing art, the spindle revolving below the strong thread that the fingers twist out of the mass of fibers on an arm or a distaff. The gesture turns the cloudy mass of fiber into lines with which the world can be tied together. Likewise, the spinning wheel turns, cyclical time revolving to draw out the linear line of a thread. The verb to spin first meant just this act of making, then evolved to mean anything turning rapidly, and then it came to mean telling a tale. (Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby).

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