handmade paper

Embroidering Absence

Embroidered Absence no. 1

Embroidered Absence no. 1

Greetings on the eve of the arrival of autumn! I thought it was time to share some of the new work with you, as I’ve been spending at least a little time in the studio each week. Johntimothy made some beautiful paper over the summer, so I’ve been making use of it. Somehow the paper (made from old recycled and cast off prints) begged to be stitched. I found myself drawn to the pieces that he thought of as mistakes and failures as the pulp had been quite thing in certain areas and holes and tears developed. I was also taken with the uneven edges and tactile quality of the surface, not to mention the beautiful echos of color embedded in each sheet.

Embroidered Absence no. 1 detail

Embroidered Absence no. 1 detail

Embroidered Absence no. 1 detail

Embroidered Absence no. 1 detail

Once the sewing was quite underway and I began to relax and let go, I realized I was truly drawn to the idea of keeping the pieces minimal and concentrating all my attention on the holes and imperfections. I began to understand that I was embroidering emptiness and that the pieces were meditations on absence. Absence as metaphor for the missing, the lost, the holes left behind.

Embroidered Absence no. 2

Embroidered Absence no. 2

I thought about the terrible loss, the holes that open up inside us when loved ones are killed, torn from our lives suddenly. I began to tear small holes where there were none. I thought about lost knowledge, about how the least bit of curiosity about almost anything will reveal mountains of unknown history, long buried….and so many fascinating stories to be told.

Embroidered Absence no. 2 detail

Embroidered Absence no. 2 detail

I thought about how we so often dwell on what is missing in our lives, the absences, rather than what we have and can be thankful for. As if, the missing thing would make our life complete, but we know it never works that way and the search is endless. The holes remain and we continue find ways to fill them.

Embroidered Absence no. 3

Embroidered Absence no. 3

Embroidered Absence no. 3 detail

Embroidered Absence no. 3 detail

Embroidered Absence no. 3 detail

Embroidered Absence no. 3 detail

So many ideas about absence….and its opposite, presence. By working my way around the holes, embellishing with colored line and beads, I was also making a statement about being present, about slowing down as hand stitching is inherently a quiet, meditative process. I find beauty in imperfection and the unexpected. Those little tied knots make me happy somehow.

Embroidered Absence no. 4

Embroidered Absence no. 4

Absence is presence. When we feel an absence keenly, it is surely a presence in our lives. And the metaphor here is that the shapes and torn edges of the holes themselves are as much of a presence as the thread and beads. Each thing and its opposite. There is no light without darkness and a meditation on absence leads to a meditation on presence. There is much to explore!

Embroidered Absence no. 4 detail

Embroidered Absence no. 4 detail

I’m enjoying this work….the paper, the slowness and the meditation. I’m not sure where these pieces will take me, but I’ll keep you posted. Hope you enjoy them!