Studio: Synthesizing my Assimilations (WHY?)

Well my graduate review is coming up very soon, and it is time to write an artist statement about what I’m doing in the studio at the moment. However, before I can do this, I must really think about what I am doing. My classmate, Virginia, has challenged all of us in the graduate program to “ask ‘WHY’ in everything we do in our studio practice.” This challenge came at the perfect time for me. I have been gathering all this information and researching ideas, but it is time to absorb and reflect to come up with my own ideas. Below is what I’ve been thinking about, and the ideas that resonate with me the most. I will jump from here to begin an artist statement this week.


Recycled Linens and Fabric:

Recycle is the key word here. Unfortunately, we are in an age where people buy new things and dispose of the old. I was brought up in a family that used things until they were broken beyond repair, and only then were new items bought, and only if you couldn’t get it used. My family was not only frugal because at one time we had to be, but also because it was a way of life. As time has gone by, society has become more and more wasteful.

  • Giving a new purpose to something that has been discarded.
  • In the past, worn items were darned, reassembled in patchwork, used as diapers, or dust cloths. In WWI scrap fabrics were used as bandages. Some societies even use scrap fabrics for paper pulp.
  • Owning linens at one time was to own something very precious. With the increase in production of cotton, linens were more accessible to people because the price came down and was more affordable; thus made them more common.

Old Photographs:

Looking at old photographs, whether they are my family or not, has always intrigued me. There is always a story to be told. It is an inside peek into someone’s life. My family photos are a clue into my grandmother’s life, and what she was like before I met her.

  • I am interested in the history of my family and looking at my grandmother’s perspective of her life.
  • Old family photos generally chronicle the important happy events of a family’s life. I am interested in this positive aspect of memory. A positive, sometimes humorous message.
  • I am trying to keep the past alive, but not stop change. People are so quick to leave the past behind. I wish that people would learn more from the past and grow into the present by learning from the past. POSITIVE CHANGE.
  • My connection to old photos and old things is in part because I don’t like where the present is leading us into the future. We are a disposable society that makes decisions based on GREED. Older items seemed to last a lot longer than ones produced today. Things are not designed to last anymore. Companies slowly release upgrades in order to make more money.
  • Showing personal photos is an invitation to view it: a concept of TOGETHERNESS.


Memory and Time:

  • Connection to my family, but also bringing the PAST TO THE PRESENT by creating new stories from my grandmother’s memories.
  • NOSTALGIA – My grandmother’s memories: honoring the family and friends that were in her life.
  • Remembering the positive and carrying that to the present and future. What you do now will affect the future.
  • To be forgotten is to not be important enough to be remembered.
  • At one time photos were considered to be the TRUTH or evidence. With todays ability to manipulate photographs, this is not the case anymore. However, even in the past, photos could still be interpreted in many ways depending on the context, thus questioning still this ability to be EVIDENCE.


Layering Fabric

  • Layers of memory.
  • Accumulated memory .
  • Generations

Cutting Away Fabric

  • Taking away the negative and taking the positive forward to the future. (metaphorically)


  • Keeping some detail and erasing other detail: fading memory and deterioration of the past.
  • New memories: A new point of view (my point of view using my grandmother’s point of view.)
  • Bringing the past to the present.

Working Intuitively

I have brought a chance element into my daily photo collages. I am randomly picking 2 photographs and using only these 2 photos for the collage. These compositions don’t always work out to be successful, but every once in a while there is a HAPPY ACCIDENT. It is the happy accident that I am looking for.

  • The happy accident is what we learn the most from. The unexpected is what makes us take notice of what we wouldn’t normally see.
  • If more people would follow their intuition, they would probably be happier people.
  • By using happy accidents as a part of my message I hope to inspire positive change.

Whew! Well, It actually took me all day to come up with this stuff. My brain actually hurts! All of this thinking, and I haven’t even STARTED the artist statement! However, this has really helped me narrow my thoughts and is a good starting point to jump off from.

Earlier last week, I went to a graduate photography class to get some feedback from a different perspective other than my fiber friends. One of the things they really zoomed in on was the BACK of all of my sewn collages. They really wanted me to figure out a way to display my work in a way that you could see both front and back. They also thought this would go in line with my concept of memory, and the lasting IMPRESSION that certain events have on your memory. So, I scanned some visuals for you with this in mind. I accidentally scanned the front in black and white and decided that this perspective was quite interesting in its own right so, I scanned the other one this way too. I will have the color versions of these in my new PORTFOLIO section later this week.

What do YOU think of the back of these collages? Do you think I should figure out a way to show the back too? (I’m not sure how I feel about this.)

I think it is really interesting how it looks like he is going DOWN the stairs on the flip side. The back really works well in contrast to the front on this one, but I’m not sure about the next one:



Filed under Artwork in Progress, Inspiration, Memory, Photo, Sketchbook, Studio Practice, Trace

4 responses to “Studio: Synthesizing my Assimilations (WHY?)

  1. vrolli20

    Wow, Anna. I can tell you’ve done a lot of work! I like where you are going with the idea of evidence and truth in regards to photography. There were several photographers who played with this idea by staging their subject matter. You are doing the same, but with scissors and thread.
    You should definitely schedule some time to talk with Frederick Gross in the Art History department to get his perspective on your work. He is an excellent resource in regards to the field of photography.
    I also think that the presentation of these pieces will have a dramatic impact upon your viewer’s perspective of them. For instance, do you revere them so much that they become a hand made book, elaborately framed picture, or simply sit unfinished on a white pedestal? How do you envision these when they are complete.
    To answer your question, the figure on the stairs seems definitely more engaging from front and back rather than the women talking. Maybe, you are finding the ones that have two narratives in one. This could become an interesting pursuit, because the viewer seeks what is true (is he going up the stairs or down or both at the same time?) Another lovely idea that popped in my head was about antique pictures where money or other articles of value where hidden behind the photograph. In this way, you open up the back of the picture frame to reveal what is hidden beneath. Just food for thought. Good luck at your review.

  2. wow! the stitchings are looking so beautiful. i love the way he looks like he is going down the stairs too. Keep up the layering. What would it look like to add 10 layers? It could start to create 3 dimensionality which could be an interesting metaphor to explore in your work.

  3. dfirst

    I think the abstraction of the backs may have a universality that could work for you. It also takes some of the nostalgia out of the image…..if you want to do that.

  4. I really enjoy your art very much. Each piece tells a unique story. I could look at them for long stretches. Could you put them on a kind of thin, suspended frame, like an embroidery frame?

    The back reminds me somehow of time in a vacuum, or parallel universes, or something like that. I could not explain it in terms of art theory, but it’s how I react to it.

    I rarely comment on art blogs- your work is intriguing in the same way I love Joseph Cornell. Intimate, detailed, recycled, found, at times surreal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s