April 22 – 27, 2013
When I was a little girl, I remember playing on the wooden floor of my home looking up at my mother, aunt, and grandmother all seated and sewing simultaneously. Even as a child I remember thinking that when I became a woman, that is what I was going to do, too. Sewing is a tradition that has passed down through the women in my family, and my mom began teaching me when I was about 12 years old. I have always seen the stitching process as a metaphor for the importance of tradition and the significance of human relationships.
Despite the simplicity of the sewing process, it binds things together in a strong and substantial way. In Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope, the heroine of the epic, uses sewing and weaving as a form of non-verbal communication, showing the strength and intensity of her love for Odysseus and her devotion to her family and tradition. For her and for me, these ideals resonate in the process of sewing rather than in the finished product. When night falls, in an expression of steadfast ingenuity, Penelope actively unweaves what she did during the day. She speaks her own dialect of love silently with that action and shows us the resilience of her bond with her long-absent husband. Laertes’ shroud takes three years to complete, but the completed garment, I would suggest, is not the only symbol of life, death and love; instead, those ideas are also distinctly represented in her creative process.
From even a few feet away, a well-rendered stitch is almost invisible, but it’s there, filling the gaps, holding the whole together. Throughout this exhibition, I ask you to stitch yourself through the space and contemplate the beauty of the process and all of its value; both utilitarian and metaphorical. When you enter the space, a film will introduce the stitching process as it focuses on the tactile moments that I find visually beautiful, but easily overlooked. Moving through the space, you will next encounter a study of some of the most popular stitches. They are shown from the front, which most people are familiar with on their own clothes or other home textiles, but there is also an opportunity to view a stitch from the back, which is where the construction and process is clearly visible. Moving forward, I have studied the closure-knots from the back of the stitches from the previous case study, and made larger, gestural representations of those knots which hold all of the stitches together and marks the beginning or end of the mending process. At the end, you are asked to tear the fabric in two and then stitch it back together using the materials provided. The process of mending is simple if one is willing to provide the effort. The mistakes we make, or the pain we feel, are reparable if one is willing to undergo a process of mending. On the opposite wall, the phrase, “You are the needle. I am the thread” ends the exhibit and allows the viewer to further contemplate the relationship between stitching and human relationships.
About the Artist
Katie Wolf is a senior studio art major, art history minor from Greensboro, NC. With an interest in gallery and museum work she has had internships at the Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. She has also participated in the exhibition Transforming Race, and her works appear in the the John P. Anderson Collection of Student Art. In 2011, she received the Lynne Johnson Travel Award for an independent study on contemporary art in London, England which ignited her passion for contemporary art galleries. After graduating from Wake Forest in May of 2013, she will stay in Winston-Salem as a Wake Forest University Presidential Fellow at the START Gallery.