Tied Together (crochet collaborations)

This page represents a continuing series of collaborative fibers works between myself and my partner, Hannah March Sanders. These crocheted sculptures act as confession and penance as we come to terms with the global impact of our growing family. Through the body of work we acknowledge the indulgence of procreation on an already stressed planet and the joy that domestic unit brings. By copping to our complicity, acknowledging our privilege, and celebrating our felicity, we inspire our offspring and their generation to ensure a happier, healthier, more just future.

Each piece is composed of recycled prints on fabric, linens, and clothing. Much of the material comes from past projects, our closet, and from friends and family. As a result, the finished work represents a shared history as each scrap tells a story. Repurposed textiles from quilting bees and thrift stores are knotted into the work, literally tying together the fabric while metaphorically entangling experiences of an expanding collective. This process also provides ecological benefits, sparing the landfill of hundreds of pounds of cotton and synthetic fibers.

The text that complements the crochet components addresses experiences of our young family and pairs them with broader ecological concerns, particularly human reliance on fossil fuels.

The projects below proceed from most recent work to earliest examples. Spill and Wean were just completed, but we already have a new piece called Refuse in the works.

Spill

Spill; Site Responsive Installation (with Hannah March Sanders); crocheted repurposed fabric, appliqué and reverse appliqué stitching, and snaps; approx. 14’x10′; 2017

Spill is the largest crochet collaboration to date. On the wall the piece stretches under its own weight, like oil spills as they advance and disperse across the surface and suffuse what lies beneath. The acidic colors, deliberately employed for maximum retinal burn, effectively describe the ecological trauma of these events, as unwanted pollution leads to unleashed free radicals and other unforeseen effects.

Wean

 

Wean; Site Responsive Installation (with Hannah March Sanders); crocheted repurposed fabric, reverse appliqué stitching, and snaps; approx. 10’x6’x4′; 2017

Our son, Levee, was weaned at 18 months. But that was only possible because he was staying with his grandmas in Georgia for a week while we taught in Tennessee. Without that opportunity there’s a good chance he would still be begging to be breastfed! Weaning provides a metaphor for our reliance on fossil fuels as well. So much of our economy, and our lives, leans on petrochemicals for energy and raw material it is difficult to imagine finding a new, healthy “diet” when oil and gas seem so plentiful. However, it is better for us, and for planet if we can break that latch. Our landscape is dotted with mines and pumps, sapping our irreplaceable natural resources. Increased seismic activity and compromised ground water is evidence that the planet is chaffing at this sustained suckling. At the same time, Hannah would tell you there were times that she felt she was little more than a walking, talking pumping station, on demand whenever Levee was hungry.

Wean reminds us of the grueling giving of mothers and Mother Earth alike. This time I contributed the text and the crocheted nipple. A gingham backdrop for the viscous, woven white text references the wholesome image of milk; while the inflamed, leaking nipple alludes to the painful reality.

Exhaust

Exhaust

Exhaust; Site Responsive Installation (with Hannah March Sanders); Crocheted repurposed fabric, bleached fabric, reverse appliqué stitching, and snaps; Approximately 8’x8’x4′; 2016

Exhaust is a further exploration of the themes begun in Domestic Dependence, namely how does a family come to terms with bringing another consumer into an already overcrowded world? This piece was the first that was coming from the perspective of parents of a toddler, one who not only wears us out, but is also already making an impact exhausting the planet. The work debuted at University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Dependence and Domestic

These pieces were originally created to become components of Domestic Dependence, an installation project designed for a solo exhibition of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri. The crocheted forms adhere to conventional “rag rug” shapes to hearken back to traditional home crafts, an allusion to our own domesticity. The text components allude to outdated notions of family. The fabrics were chosen for their misplaced nostalgia, and their derivation from petrochemicals. Saturated colors in double knit polyester reinforce the tackiness and discomfort of the “all-American family”.The words themselves are taken from the vernacular of the fossil fuel debate: the preference for domestic energy production, and the dependence on those products. Typefaces were chosen to relate the language to the theme. The script of Domestic belongs on a ’50s kitchen wall. The vintage calculator look of Dependence relates to the crude calculus American families undertake when figuring the tax benefit of their brood. It turns out I depend on my dependents for my domestic bliss, but they in turn are dependent on an environment that is increasingly volatile, threatening their happy home.

Domestic; crocheted repurposed fabric,, appliqué stitching, and snaps; approx. 6’x7′; 2015

Dependence; crocheted repurposed fabric, reverse appliqué stitching, and snaps; approx. 4.5’x5′; 2015