I’ve got two textile pieces up at the Tempe Center for the Arts, as part of the Twenty Questions exhibition. If you’re local, please go by and check them out. If you’re not local, here’s a few closeup photos, with more photos to come soon.
The two works are called Family Heirloom No. 1 (predictive), and Family Heirloom No. 2 (actual).
I’ve been inheriting family heirlooms lately- as my parents prepare to move, and with my in-laws recent move- china, crystal, quilts, and linens. I started thinking about what exactly makes something worth preserving- a pristine, Irish linen tablecloth, picture perfect for elaborate formal holidays, in contrast with some lovely, worn, quilts that my husband’s grandmother made by hand. Anyway, I ended up trying to see how I could begin to start my own family heirlooms- things to be passed down through the generations.
Here’s the text that went next to the work:
Over a four month period, stains and spills occurring during meals were marked on a tablecloth. All dinners were served Korean family-style (main and side dishes are placed in the middle of the table, within reach of all diners, to allow everyone to serve themselves, minimizing the
passing of dishes). The majority of meals eaten at the table were consumed by the artist and her husband, but there were also numerous potlucks and meals with friends and family.
The locations + sizes of all spills and stains were marked with raw-edged circles of fabric, stitched with color coded “X” marks. The tablecloth is meant to be used over the years, allowing for a gradual build-up of marks, and increasingly fraying edges (as the material is washed and used) making visible the passage of time and history of events.
The predictive tablecloth assumed that most of the spills would be caused by the artist and her husband, and would begin to show the actual placement of plates and serving dishes- the blank spaces defining the position of the diners. However, the actual tablecloth became more a marker of events that occurred- such as a glass of milk spilled while eating birthday cake, a bottle of celebratory wine poured during another meal, a single slippery chickpea escaping the chopsticks of the artist’s father.
It was interesting to note that the biggest spills and stains were caused by children, and the more hedonistic of guests.