listening to the materials
Continuing updates on this project which involves hand-embroidering responses to personal questions I (mostly) receive in the mail.
This is about the actual size. It’s funny, but it takes such a short time to start to feel acquainted with a person’s writing when you are paying this close attention to it. You’re on your third “e” and you think, yes, that’s how their “e” goes. It’s such an intimate exercise, but with people I may never have seen. In this case I was told the story by my nurse friend who left an envelope for responses at the hospital, because the writer told her. What came before this response was a series of losses and tragedy and this was the first healing moment following them.
As painstaking and time-consuming as this project is and will be, I’m already loving it. It’s funny, it will be viewed as “obsessive” work, but in the balance for me it isn’t. It’s meditation. More, such work has a practical place for me. I travel. When I am traveling, this fits into a tiny bag. I can work and not waste the time. I also have a fairly serious back injury that puts me out of commission periodically. When I can’t stand (I’m never supposed to sit), I can do work like this. Mind you, when the back isn’t bad I can dance (including performance seasons) and climb, etc., just not sit. Still, it’s important to plan work that I can do lying down so that I’m never wasting time I could be doing work. My other projects tend towards a larger scale.
As I’m embroidering these responses I’m letting other parts of the piece unfold in my mind. I wanted the computer-text versus hand text, but I needed to know why my subconscious needed it to be embroidery too. Today the reason the contrast text must be machine embroidery in a commercial font became clearer. It’s that illusion of intimacy, careful attention, personal touch, etc. that the machine embroidery is offering, and failing at. Next to the real thing I suspect it will be so obviously a completely different thing as to be alien. If it were just printed text on paper or text on a screen it would lack that offered illusion.
I’m getting glimmers of arrangement ideas but I’m going to wait until I have a lot more of them and have them alongside the machine ones. I’m done with this idea that conceptual artists (or ANY contemporary artist) must have fully conceived and practically written a paper on the artwork before they even touch the material. Bullshit. Visual artists work with visuals and materials. In the process of working with a medium it talks back to you. It’s a conversation… or it should be. I’m listening as well as talking.