Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Last Words, Eternal Rest at the Georgia Agriculture Museum in Tifton, GA

(Above:  Last Words: Eternal Rest.  This is my solo show at the Georgia Agriculture Museum and Historic Village's gallery on the grounds of the Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College in Tifton, GA.)

I am so very pleased that The Canopy is hanging in this show.  It is truly the centerpiece of the space but also the conceptual touchstone for the exhibition which opens next weekend during the annual Folk Life Festival and runs through July 9th.

(Above and all images below:  Views of Last Words: Eternal Rest.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

I'm very excited about the coming Folk Life Festival.  I've always loved these sort of events, especially in the midst of historic structures with a focus on showing the public the charms, hardships, and realities of yesteryear.  The Georgia Agriculture Museum and Historic Village has a full complex of relocated buildings, a train track, a lake, a distillery, and docents dressed in period costume.  Thus, I wanted my show to reflect the nostalgia and values of an era steeped in "reuse, recycle, and repurpose".  I wanted to strongly suggest that old doilies and neglected household linens are imbued with suggested family narratives.  The Canopy was entirely made from vintage doilies and antique lace ... items made by anonymous women who dreamed of picture-perfect houses, picket fences, and their own stories being retold through generations to come. 

My hope is that this show will be an opportunity for people to contemplate their own family's textile tales.  Here's the exhibition statement:

Using a needle and thread, I work to express the passage of time through generations. Grave rubbings on silk, vintage household linens, recycled material and surfaces of dense stitching investigate the concepts of remembrance, mortality, and my desire to leave a lasting legacy. My work explores the final words marking others people’s lives.  My hopes are to communicate the preciousness of life even after death and to waken others to their own family’s textile treasures. Before I find eternal sleep, I hope to rescue as many doilies and vintage materials as possible.  It is my way to honor their anonymous makers while trusting that my own memory is secured in these commonly buried stitches.

The work asks:

What are your final wishes? 

How do you want to be remembered?

What last words will mark your life?
Have you told your textile tales to the next generation?

It took Steve, Polly Huff (the museum's hard-working curator), and me nearly four hours to hang the exhibit but it was well worth the time.

Steve and I will be on site during the folk life festival ... on the afternoon of Saturday, April 9th.  At the time, we will actually be on our way to the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum in Arizona to install Threads: Gathering My Thoughts, my solo show.  I plan on blogging during our cross-country adventure which also goes to the Textile Museum in DC for the opening of Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora where my cotton installation is hanging.

I will be returning to Tifton to teach a workshop for the local quilt guild.  The workshop is called "Second Life" and is being taught on the museum's property on Tuesday, May 3rd and Wednesday, May 4th.  I love sharing stories, stitches, and the hope for leaving a lasting fiber legacy with people who feel the same sort of longings. 

When Steve and I visited the gallery space several years ago, Polly Huff gave us an excellent guided tour.  The tour included the storage spaces for the museum.  One room contained this lovely cedar chest.  Polly said I could use it and any of the uncataloged vintage household linens in my show.  I took her up on the offer.  After all, an important point of this exhibit is to pose the question:   

Have you shared your textile tales with the next generation?

What better why to ask such a question than to include it in a frame which also reads, "What's in your cedar chest?"  I selected an appropriate gold and walnut Victorian frame ... of course!

The sign and the museum's filled cedar chest are perfect directly under The Canopy.

One of the other things that makes this exhibit special is the incorporation of a station for public response.  If an exhibit is directly asking an important question (as this one is!), a place for answers ought to be made available.

I changed my Altar for Forgiveness into a public response station by adding several, small art quilts, a blank book, and two framed signs. Now, people can leave me messages and/or answer the question ... What's in your cedar chest? Have you you shared your textile tales? I can't wait to see what words are added to the pages.

This week I've got a choice of blog posts to link to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art work.  This one wins!


Yael said...

Hi Susan - THIS canopy is just SO incredible! You must have sewn together hundreds, more than thousand? of doilies and pieces of lace, it is so fantastically beautiful!
Wonderful and thoughtful exhibition.
How do I want to be remembered? Hm, as kind of course, and... ha, ha, I will think about it more, thanks for the push! :-)

Shasta Matova said...

This looks like another great exhibit. My cedar chest doesn't have anything precious in it - just beach towels and stuff that I couldn't find another place to put. I am going to get organized one of these days.

Debbie said...

This work is exquisite, beautiful and moving, a wonderful tribute to all those women whose work is included. It always make me quite sad when I look through these types of items in charity shops a collection of work no longer appreciated or loved. It is good that some of us reuse these pieces.

Margaret said...

This is a very special exhibit...one that really touches my heart -- in part because to date, my kids -- well, especially my daughter -- have been appalled at the thought of inheriting any of my 'old-fashioned stuff'. With my son's marriage this summer, this may change, as my future DIL is a history student...so I have hopes that my family treasures won't all be sold off at auction after I'm gone...