Initially I started doodling, so to speak, on these two pieces which were left over from aikido uniform jackets. I had this idea about cloud chambers and a secret code being representative of different stages of my life, but when I got to the top of the left side, where I start to spread my wings, I didn’t know where to go from there. So I put it down. (The blue side was dyed with indigo a year after I did the stitching in blue, and then I just started stitching in white as a contrast to the other side.) This piece is more about mark making than it is about me or my story.
In the meantime, this past spring, in April, I decided to start a bullet journal. The idea was never that I would use it faithfully every day. In fact, I barely touched it over the summer, BUT I have used it regularly and one of the things I use it for is to write down or (gasp!) sketch ideas. One day, I had this very strong idea of just presenting myself in mountain pose saying in bold letters I AM HERE NOW.
I wanted there to be a good contrast between my figure and the background and this little black quilt was already made.
I’ve also been thinking about themes of things bubbling up, festering, decay. I had cut up a quilt with a steak knife and sewed it back together and really liked the effect, but that was already dedicated to that project. So, I got my steak knife back out and went to work.
For reasons I can’t exactly remember, I decided that I actually wanted a stripped background, so I dug out these fabrics, ripped them up, and auditioned them. I tend to like to work from the background up.
I decided that the up and down pattern was too regular. It didn’t really reflect where I was. So many goings and comings in my life, especially in the summer, driving kids around. It better reflects the busy-ness of our lives.
But! driving kids around is not the only distraction in my life. There are many shiny distractions that take me out of the here and now.
Then it was time to add the words I’d sketched down. I also had been thinking, again, about the essay about time being a feminist issue by Brigid Schulte. So, I added pieces from watches. I placed the time piece fragments somewhat randomly, except for the one in the middle of the figure’s abdomen. As women age, there is the ticking of the biological clock and then, even later, the tolling of menopause which changes women physically as well as mentally.
I tried another layout for the words, rather than the circular layout, and liked it better. It felt both easier to read and more graphically poetical. I have my figure standing on the space bar. There are several puns in here. I AM HER(E) NOW. I am HERE. NOW. I am HER. NOW. And she is standing on the space bar, literally making space for herself.
Finally, I had to add friends to the space bar to make it read as a space bar. Happily. my fabric had shift, control, and function bars, which deepens the metaphor further AND makes the space bar read more like a space bar.
I hand stitched the keys in part because I’d started with hand stitching and I felt it was a way to add my personal mark. Also, nothing represents where you are at a particular moment like hand stitching. When I’m doing my stitch meditations, I can see the stitches reflecting those moments back to me so clearly.
Finally, the last five pictures are details, if you wanted a closer look.
PS: I forgot to talk about the choice of cheesecloth for the figure. I wanted to suggest fragility and ephemerality. Is she disappearing or emerging? That is for you to decide.