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Serious Series Work

About a month ago, a call from Webster Presbyterian Church was issued for a virtual Fourteen Stations of the Cross. The church has a beautiful space for exhibiting art and I have had two pieces in two different shows there. I was surprised to read about this particular call as it seems more in keeping with the Catholic faith but it did sound intriguing

My first step was to do research on the various interpretations. Webster kindly provided links to two disparate collections–one from the Smithsonian Art Museum featuring a variety of artists, media, cultures, and time periods. The other featured a series by Barnett Newman, all very abstract but contemplative. Since most churches are closed to limited visitors, I knew there was an outdoor example at St. Anthony’s Cathedral here in Beaumont.

I re-read the stories, studied the various interpretations and began to design my series.

Posting the beginning of a series is a scary thing—will I finish it? is my work good enough? Will the work meet my vision? And will I finish?

And so here is my start.

Fiber and fabric and thread and stitches are my media of choice. I chose a set of fabrics I had dyed using walnut husks collected from my farm in Wisconsin along with samples of fabrics dyed with sawdust generously contributed by a friend who was a wood-turner.

Usually I find a model, do photographs and then do my drawings, convert them into thread and fabric. But the pandemic limited my access to models–no doubt college students in the art department could be convinced into a few photographs—or some of my friends—but knocking on doors and standing outside to take a few photos of their hands seemed rather rude and just not right.

Then I read the story again in each of the four gospels and began to wonder if the behavior exhibited by each person was a part of my persona—and so I am using my own hands as the models for my work.

This is not so easy—as taking a photo of the right hand while holding a camera steady and pressing the button is awkward at best—but the photos do not have to be wonderful to work.

Over the next few days I’ll be considerably less wordy and show my progress as I go.

Here is the start of No. 1. This is the Garden of Gethsemane. The background fabric had the faint image of what appeared to be a figure kneeling.

faint image of kneeling praying

I use a fine wale corduroy as a stabilizer for my stitching; and here is the figure emphasized by an outline from the back.

sitching kneeling

Next I added the trees. These are cut from black cotton organdy backed with a fusible.

adding trees

The trees were stitched down and some hand embroidery added to the figure. The piece is not mounted yet and so I will have some time to consider adding more embroidery to emphasize the figure.

But I must keep moving. Thirteen pieces remain for inspiration and implementation.

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