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Letdown is an exploration of the saturation of our waterways and aquatic life with tiny pieces of plastic under five millimeters that many birds, fish, and other animals mistake for food. Some plastics can act in strange ways in our systems, such as BPA, which is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that mimics estrogen. As a former breastfeeding mother with a hormone imbalance causing overproduction and continued milk let-down over 2 years after discontinuing breastfeeding, this work references my own strong soft body, weighted by hormones, milk, and changing shape through time, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and rearing another human.

Letdown also explores the unwelcome leaching of plastics into our environment, infecting our water and thereby the food that lives and thrives from that water, ultimately coming back to clog our own systems. One way microplastics enter the waterways is through machine washing synthetic fabrics. The microfibers break off from our clothing each wash cycle and go down the drain with the rinse water, and they are not able to be filtered out by our current waste treatment systems. Mark Browne, senior research associate at the University of New South Wales in Australia, ascertained that 85% of waste on shorelines around the world is comprised of microfibers. The health risks are unknown, but it is known that the bottled water we drink, the fish we eat, and potentially even the air we breathe is filled with tiny bits of plastics.

In this piece I am recognizing my own complicity in the problem, as the central layer is made up entirely of scraps from my clothing, fiber art, and other, sewing projects. This work was created by hand carving and printing a woodcut onto multiple used bed sheets. The imagery was cut out and appliquéd together, one layer treated with indigo dye. Then a bedsheet was laid out and covered in small, otherwise unusable scraps of various fabrics from my sewing room floor along with plastic grocery bags from my home. The woodcut appliqué prints were pinned on top, and a machine sewing and slashing method was used to quilt the layers together. Binding was applied with machine and hand sewing, and the boob cloud was created with nylon pantyhose, polyfil, and needle felted wool with additional plastic bag “rain” linking the sculptural element with the printed, slashed, and dyed surface.

Woodcut Prints on Up-cycled Fabrics with Appliqué, Machine and Hand Stitching, Slashing, Poly-Fil, Nylon Stockings, Needle Felted Wool, and Plastic Grocery Bags
27" x 52" x 12"
2018

Our Indelible Mark Exhibition at IMPACT 2018 in Santander, Spain