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Arts and Science Council: 2020 Community Supported Art Project

THE INTRODUCTION FOR THE PATRONS:

Due to Covid restrictions, in lieu of the in person gathering to receive the artwork, we were asked to create informal videos for the Zoom reveal event.

THE PROJECT:

Here is a visual journey of the CSA project. Creating 50 pieces was daunting. I did fortunately ask for the final reveal date in April knowing I wanted plenty of time to account for things going wrong, which they did, especially not having my own kiln. From ordering decals from China which took weeks to arrive only to realize they were too large for the handkerchiefs and having to make my own, to finding enough cigar boxes that were big enough to hold them.

Applying the decals was a process full of failures since they didn't like to adhere to the curved surfaces and tended to bubble. Many were sanded and redone several times. Good old Modge Podge came to the rescue as the finally sealant after trying many different things.

Just when I was ready to crochet the edges, Covid hit freeing up my schedule which I guess was a blessing. Several of the handkerchiefs were folded in a way that was impossible to crochet all around and a few I forgot to put holes in for embroidery. Some holes were filled by glaze or smooshed closed. I found I could only crochet at most 4 a day or my wrist would suffer. Crocheting a hard surface is nothing like the calming feeling of working on something soft. Once I began embroidering the pieces, I found some holes were too small for ribbon and so I used more beadwork than I had originally planned. I had to order my supplies online when I ran out. It took days to arrive, so I started digging in to my stash and reconsidered what I had. I fell in love with my gold sequins when paired with the more glamorous images of ladies. The images started to take on personalities from spending so much time with them. One would take favor over the other and then change. I pondered the idea of the southern belle while I worked.

The cigar boxes are meant to represent the South and the plantations, even though I was informed at the smoke shop that the tobacco grown here was for cigarettes. I wanted to invoke the "glorified" past with the boxes, tied with a ribbon and finished with a wax seal of a crown, filled with wood shavings just as goods were packed long ago before styrofoam and bubble wrap.

The whole piece is meant to be an experience. I wanted it to be "pretty" but what is it really about? What does "bless your heart" really mean? I encourage you to read about the history of handkerchiefs, and the phrase if you're not from the South. Unfortunately, I can't find the article stating that it began as a way for Southern women to express disdain without appearing unladylike. They were not allowed to speak freely and were expected to be polite. My work generally deals with women's' issues so this piece began from that perspective. This piece, much like the phrase, "bless your heart" is not as sugary sweet as it appears.

THE WORK:

Each slideshow features one of the 6 images used and the pieces created with it. I took the photographs myself and my camera was not quite able to capture all the details as I would have liked which is why I'm including them in my blog rather than on a full website page.

Footnote:

It's hard not to associate a body of work with what was going on when you made it: where you were, what you listened to or saw, what you experienced. In March, the world changed when the protests began with the killing of George Floyd. While I worked on this project, I thought more about how this piece related to the history of the South, the Antebellum era, and the surface politeness of the South itself. I'll let you draw your own conclusions as this piece was not supposed to be "political" though in my mind it's hard to differentiate issues from politics these days. When you're doing needlework, your mind has a lot of time to ponder.

 

Davidson, North Carolina, USA

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