Thursday, April 30, 2009

Epitaph Installation....testing an idea!

(Above: Free motion embroidery on chiffon. Click on image to enlarge.)

I've been collecting epitaphs ever since I started my Grave Rubbing Quilt series, writing down the words left to describe a loved one....not the names of the deceased. I've generally scribbled down the date of a way to convey a sense of time. From the start, I knew I wanted to use these words in a hanging installation.

For this installation, I want the memories to almost float in space, as if written on semi-invisible tombstones. I want to create an atmosphere that suggests both the individual people but our human, universal connection with life and death. This two pieces are my "test" for the work to come.

(Click on image to enlarge.)
Both are free motion embroidered using a water soluble, adhesive material in order to stitch on the sheerest chiffon I could find. I used two colors of chiffon and like them both. I used two shades of gray thread but only like the darker one. I also stitched the darker one as a single line....and it took FOREVER to hand stitch the ends of the machined threads back into each word. On the lighter one, I stitched each word, retraced my stitching back to the start of the word, and then stitched the word again....basically, going over the word three times and then simply snipping off the ends of the threads with the knowledge that it wouldn't unravel. This second approach took less time....but I don't like it nearly as well. Thus, the work will be done using both shades of chiffon and hand stitching the ends of the threads carefully back into each letter. (That's four threads...but it will be worth it!)

In order to see if I was going to end up with the overall desired affect, I hung up the two test pieces in the atrium at Gallery 80808. It's going to work! Of course, the "real work" will include dozens of hanging epitaphs on varying lengths of chiffon....hopefully creating a very, very tall and wide cylindrical column of fragile, ghostly, strips of material on which memories of special loved ones are written. During the day, the installation will appear quite different than during the evening as there are four wonderful skylights above. I am still working on a system from which to hang the grouping...something light, unobtrusive, and able to be taken apart and rebuilt with some degree of ease in order to be transported for future exhibitions. (This will be as much of an undertaking as the stitching!) Below is a photo of the atrium and the skylights....can't you just see my installation here?!!!


Gabriela said...

Yes, I see it Susan!
Good luck, Gabriela

Denise Felton said...

Inspired! Truly. Your work is always fascinating. I just put a link to this post on my blog. I hope it brings you a few new fans. I'll be watching the development of this project eagerly.


Magpie's Mumblings said...

Absolutely brilliant idea Susan!! How I wish I could see your work in person.

Beate Knappe said...

Your work is always fascinating.

Wanda said...

Wow...this is so neat! And very fitting for the's airy and ghost-like. I love it! And I WILL be seeing your work in person!!! I can't believe it!! I'm so excited!!!

Unknown said...

Great test pieces!

arlee said...

ethereal but powerful