"From time to time, I will meet someone, and instantly, the visible weight of his or her life becomes almost unbearable to me, it rips me open. The objects that I make are an attempt to articulate this feeling of exposed vulnerability.
I believe that one of the functions of art is to strip us bare, to remind us of the fragility that we share with every other human being across continents and centuries. Believing that truth is often revealed in an intuitive, sentient manner, I choose content-appropriate, tactile materials: the response I seek to evoke is primarily an emotional one.
For several years, I have been working on a series of bed pillows embroidered with my own hair (and the hair of those once close to me). These “hair drawings” disclose inner turbulence through an open mouth, as if the psyche is being examined while sleeping. The embroidered mouth is positioned where the dreamer’s mouth would be, but this position could also suggest the mouth of the subconscious whispering into the ear of the dreamer. The scale and materials are intimate: the process of embroidery creates a vision composed of threads as fragile as those that make up our dreams and nightmares.
While a handful of contemporary artists count hair embroidery as a medium, none of these artists are creating imagery, using hair as drawing material. The only precedent for representational hair embroidery is in China, where it is dyed bright colors and used as thread, either in traditional imagery, or as a kitschy novelty, i.e, “the Mona Lisa embroidered in hair”.
With a lifelong body of work that is known for being obsessive, this series is by far the most tedious work I have ever done. Each piece takes approximately 3 months to complete, and requires focus far beyond any activity that I have ever undertaken. With each embroidery, I employ a new technique. The first two embroideries were done with my own hair. The piece “My Young Lover” uses the hair of an ex-boyfriend, threading each hair through the pillowcase so it appears to “grow” out of the pillow. “Ebb.” has human eyelashes “growing out” perpendicular to the pillow surface. The newest work in-progess, “Oubliette”, is not executed on a pillow, but will be stretched and exhibited under convex glass in an oval victorian Frame.
I would like to continue the series, pushing the medium even further. I have executed a series of encaustic paintings with similar imagery, and these works are done on several layers of cut wood, creating a shadowbox effect. The underlayer contains the imagery depicted inside the mouth, and the top layer “frames” the bottom with lips and surrounding area (I have provided one image of this painting for illustration purposes). I am interested in exploring the possibilities of doing a similar multi-level embroidery to increase the depth and intimacy of these small pieces. They will be shown in a custom-made oval frame with convex glass, like a relic. The presentation of these small objects is very important to the way that the overall piece is perceived. I will be experimenting with cast frames as well as customized surfaces for the oval frames that I have already found in my research. Each one of these frames with glass costs over one hundred dollars. If awarded the fellowship money, it would be used to experiment with different casting materials, as well as trying some unique surfaces on the victorian frames that are available for purchase. I am looking to produce a series of frames worthy of the time and concentration put into these tiny artworks, containing the right balance of beauty and “edge” to contextualize the insane objects that I am making."