Pressing Needs: A Case Study of Cares and Desires

SAIC Sullivan Galleries, October - December 2008

Installation for J. Morgan Puett’s collaborative project Department (Store)

"Pressing Needs" is an arrangement of garment care labels and dressmaking tools set inside a display case from the former Carson, Pirie, Scott building designed by Louis Sullivan.  Collecting numerous labels out of various articles of clothing, I stitched over words using a machine darning technique.  The fabrication process removed and re-framed language to alter meaning, resulting in a colorful accumulation of poem-like fragments from my free associations with notions of care and desire.  I am continually adding to this collection, keeping the labels stored in a scroll of muslin that lengthens as needed. 

Return Relief

Audible at ESS, Chicago: June 28th - August 17th
Return Relief is a site-specific deinstallation drawing and extension of my exhibit Thread Tracings: a Dressmaker’s Still Life. Bringing a fresh supply of materials to the gallery space, and using the pinholes of the preceding installation as a guide, I created a new description of the artwork’s progression in time. The result was a large-scale wall drawing, a retracing of the original labor in relief form.

Wall drawing: thread, straight pins, ball-point pins, safety pins, tailors’ chalk, pencil, silk strips, ric rac, marker layout dots, sticker dots, wooden stretchers, steel rods, bobbins

Thread Tracings: A Dressmaker’s Still Life

Audible at ESS May 2 – June 15, 2008
Thread Tracings is a series of over 100 embroidered drawings created from a dressmaker’s raw materials: needle, thread, and muslin. The compositions are created in sequence; threads pulled from the structure of the cloth hold a memory of linear form. This form, sometimes tangled, sometimes open, is captured in the process of tracing, and then recreated with an embroidered backstitch. The newly stitched lines, all the same length, seem to float on the surface of the cloth but on closer inspection are embedded within it. The work is an exploration of repetitive action over time, creating a vocabulary of memory from the filamentary remnants found within the dressmaker’s studio.

Duet With Lynn Book:

Carving Distance
A small feeling found in an image,

A large feeling backlogged in a body,
The feeling of pulled out eyes, siting
Sitting down on a plain, a dream bed view
Of people, all kinds, mostly family-like
In rooms, infirm, unlucky and waiting
Always waiting, as close as breath or
Teeth ground once or forever, like
Time, and wind, water and the rest
On rock, on well-whispered verse dirt
Red, gray-streaked-ochres and almost
Purple, almost as if to burst open what is
Not washed away from poured-out clouds
Or whatever the multiverse fashions of its
Myriad, mumbled and slung round stuff
Scaped, racing and struck loopy by pulls
And pull-pulses and rubber nosed pussies
Or something like that: flamed, crevassed
With arms and other limbs that swing but
Mostly reach burnt and calloused out
Hollows.  This is what is behind the words
That floated up last, in the bed boat, this
Morning with leg skin embrace in patches
Branch over branch, bone rumbles and whirs
Loose life soft-all, a momentary calm
While recall strikes a lonely path out of the
Mouth part, tongue sprouted up from heart
Of heart-shaped dream cell, a thought, more
Feeling, feeling less image, but here with
My fingers I do the thing I ask of sadness
: to carve love out of distance …

- Lynn Book