I like the tactile quality of it and I like the simplicity of it. One of my favorite patterns is log cabin. Which is just square, the middle represents the hearth of the home. It is usually red, but I kind of took it a little bit further than that. You can touch it, you can wrap yourself in them, and you know the colors and the stitching. My work…I took it from quilt making to more of an art form.
That’s also the beauty of textiles, you can reimagine it, you can cut it up and you can put it back together. You can work on it again.
Textile art is handmade, it’s not supposed to be perfect. I’ll look at a piece sideways, upside down, horizontally, vertical. In terms of the cloth itself, I’ll even look at the back because there are a lot of times the back is more interesting than the front. In this case, I was going for a particular color.
That’s what I love about the dying process, you don’t know what you’re gonna get. If I put cloth in there, silk and cotton, they dye differently. Once I see the cloth, then I start thinking about what I would do with it.
I honed it into encaustic and printmaking and textiles, which all go together. This is silk organza and silk broadcloth. I dyed them each a different color with these resist shapes on them—it’s called itajime shibori—then I rinse them all out and put them in opposite pots and then reapply some of the shapes and then fuse them together.
Here you can see this is the New York Times, but I also ran around taking pictures in the countryside. And then you lay them all out and do this process called paper lamination and then I added more paint, then I silkscreened it. Then I ripped it in half and I turned it around so this is the original and this was the other side of it. And then I burned it.
I don’t think textile art is static, I think it can be reworked. If you want to add more stitching, add more stitching. If you want to add some more printing you can just keep going. The notion is when do you stop.
I still like the idea of it enveloping you. I think it’s my geographic soul that’s coming out. That is a part of it: where we do come from. It’s not always just visual, it’s in you.
I would take pictures of graffiti and I eventually transferred them onto the piece of black and white silk. If I’m stuck I just start doing something and that somehow keeps leading to something. I let the cloth lead me. Like this piece here, this was all eco-dyed silk. It was wrapped around a piece of iron with a railroad tie I found in Canada. These marks were there so I said, ‘Let me follow these marks. Bring out that motion with a stitch.’ And then the colors, this was in response to a trip out to Aquebogue, a farm stand where there were sunflowers. I took some pictures and came up with this one. Sometimes I’ll sit with a cloth for a very long time before I know what to do with it.
I’m still discovering. And the print making, you can combine encaustic, textiles and printmaking in one piece and that is one of my goals.
The reason they’re called a breakdown is because eventually it breaks down and there’s nothing left on it. You don’t know what you’re going to get and yet it’s beautiful. I’m very patient, I let things sit and percolate.”