I simultaneously find that I am comforted by the connections we share and also frustrated by the lack of communication between those connections. I like to think of community as not being bound in time linearly but rather as infinite points on a spectrum. I use traditional craft techniques to make my work and the stitches that I sew or the weaving motions I make were also made by my ancestors—by all our ancestors. Fiber is something that we all share that goes far back in time. We are wrapped in cloth when we are born and shrouded in it when we die.
When I pull on traditional craft techniques, I’m recognizing my ancestors. I imagine infinite threads stretching back to all of the connections in the past. These threads also stretch forward and outward to the present and future connections—to all those sharing in our collective experience either now or many years from now. When I imagine our current world and its history and its future, I see a lot of tangled thread pulling this way and that and stretching on for forever. Because we are all connected by our actions, thoughts, and beliefs even if we would rather not be.
I utilize multiples when making work because I’m trying to convey the many individuals that make up the whole. I use different sizes and lines to show movement and change—our communities are not stagnant, our social structures change overnight by the actions of others. Yet at the core of it, despite this change, there is still a network in place. We construct these networks. They are important because we place importance on them and yet they are still very real to us. My undergraduate degree is in Anthropology and Ethnic Studies and this informs my work when I talk about communities—about in and out groups, social practice theory, and symbolic interactionism. Symbolic interactionism recognizes that we place meaning and importance on objects, places, and experiences based on our interactions with those things and others. We construct meaning from our environments.
I repeat the same actions over and over again when making and consider this part of my work with multiples. When I knit or quilt the same pattern I see this as constructing individuals within one large system. Usually my work is larger in scale because I’m trying to convey the enormity of these systems we live in. I draw influence from landscape. I moved a lot as a kid and every summer my parents would take us to national parks and mountains and lakes. I grew up with my small community—my family—and associating the feeling of being welcome and part of something with landscape. When we tell stories we position those stories within place. We have memories of the spaces we occupied and the feelings we had there. This is one more way we are connected. Place is part of this network we’re all occupying. I frame community and social networks alongside topography and landscape.
My work reflects subtle movements that recognize the power and grace of natural phenomena. There is an incredible strength in the understated—in something you need to investigate more closely, to contemplate further, in order to understand.