This textile collage was juried in and will be headed to Woodstock, Illinois to be part of the 31st Annual Women’s Works exhibition at Old Courthouse Center. It’s a fine art exhibition of work in all mediums.
As I packed up the piece in its shipping box today, I spent some time looking at it more closely. There’s a lot going on in it, and I remembered both the memories and meanings I put into it and the technical process of making it.
I have created several works featuring a young girl depicted as a black silhouette. It evokes memories of a paper doll and, without specific features, has universal appeal. Here she’s writing at the blackboard. Writing, drawing… what? I feel her reaching on tiptoes to complete the image. (Having always been among the shortest in class, I relate to this.) Rather than place her in a physical, recognizable schoolroom I have suggested a blackboard, and created an otherwise dream-filled environment. There is soothing water with tree reflections. There are tangled roots. There are blossoms on branches, loosely connected to what she is drawing on the blackboard. There are blocks of non-representational color and texture. Whatever this environment is, it is complex. I want to draw the viewer in to taste some of the forces and feelings that are part of her world.
As I created the piece, words for a poem were in my mind. I did not write the whole poem till after the work was complete. I was an elementary aged student in years when girls were not taught or encouraged to think about their potential or their possibilities. This sense of entrapment is part of what I was feeling as I created her environment.
The collaged layers make this work almost rigid, although it is fabric bound and backed as an art quilt. I used gel medium photo transfers of original photos onto muslin for the water, the roots and parts of the branches with blossoms. Other areas use monotype printed textures, stencils, direct painting, and varied patterns of machine stitching. The backing is hand painted muslin in colors to match the work.
I love this little girl. I fin myself thinking about her and all she might be. Girls should not feel trapped, and – like imagined characters they draw – they should soar!