One would think I could fit the last 4 boxes of mystery into one post, but there are too many beautiful images, so I'm splitting this into 2 parts. Unfortunately, I've already used the juicy words "antepenultimate" and "penultimate" otherwise I'd apply at least the latter here. So the next post, the 23rd, is really, really the final.
If you are stumbling across this blog for the first time and wondering what the hell is happening, I'll re-route you to the Inheritance Project page, where you can read more and find links to peruse the contents of the other 21 boxes of mystery sent from contributors all over the world, complete with narratives, histories and lots of question marks about the many, many makers unknown.
I offered to be the final inheritor (or the sin-eater, as one woman called me, except -- while dark and interesting -- I don't really want to be one of those). I offered to hear the stories, many of them very sad, but others full of vibrant, creative lives well lived. I offered to take on the burden of generations of handwork too precious to use and too guilt-laced to throw away. And when people responded, I gave my time in return -- I crocheted teeny tiny doilies, I hand-wrote letters of thanks, and laundered and documented and showcased these domestic linens here for a year and a half.
And now that part of the project is ending.
From these raw materials -- discarded, rescued, contributed -- I'm building a body of work that celebrates the uncelebrated, values the valueless, re-uses the useless. I'm exploring the mythology of unknown makers through collective memory and the recurring narrative themes of loss, ideals of beauty -- real, imagined or unrealized -- and power of womanhood.
I've received one small grant that allows me to work on this project and am applying for another. My exhibition proposal has been accepted by two museums. I just signed a 12 page contract with the first one.
Shit just got real.
And believe me when I say this work would not exist without the work of other women. Not a moment passes when I don't remember this fact, and I am immensely grateful.
Below are the contents of the 22nd boxes of mystery.
Long distance neighbor.
If you've never been to Alaska, please understand that it is enormous. Anchorage is the largest city, with nearly half the population of the state living in it, so when folks come into town, they plan their trip, spend the night, see people, and get a lot done. Linda Robinson lives 4 hours away from me in Homer (one of my favorite places in Alaska aside from Prince William Sound), so dropping off linens at my home and meeting me in person happened to be on her Anchorage to-do list. Some of these items were made by her grandmother, Cora May Torrey, who died in the mid 1970's, others have been acquired elsewhere and are of unknown provenance.
Many thanks, Linda, for the pit stop. I loved meeting you in person even though it was a super quick visit. When I'm in Homer next, I know we'll spend more time together. I'll make sure it's on my to-do list. I appreciate your effort to bring me these beautiful items.
Boxes inside a box.
My deep gratitude to the very creative Lara Ferguson, who sent items to me from California and took an incredible amount of time attaching descriptions and personal responses. She sent the cigar boxes to "keep treasures in," which is so sweet since I have some of my Grandpa Wayne's mid-century cigar boxes, too. Some of her thoughts are as follows:
"It seems like you can tell the age of the piece by the size of the thread: the skinnier, the older. I've crocheted a vintage pattern with #30 thread -- how did they have enough light for that kind of work?"
"Lace, tatting, beading ... they don't seem to be from the same maker ... but they all came in the same box."
Lara made a number of the items she sent and shared her creative process.
"I was working through pattern books and practicing stitches and technique. Using ecru thread made me feel like I was crocheting antiques."
"I crocheted a rainbow version of the mandala that is hooped and hung in my bathroom, for my 2-minute tooth brushing meditation."
Hang on. I clearly need a tooth brushing meditation.
"I hope the things I've included inspire you in some way, even if they don't make it into your pieces. I feel like I got a deeper understanding of your work going through this exercise..."
I love that last statement. When was the last time I immersed myself in thinking about another artist's work? It's been a long while and this was a good reminder to get out of my head and do that more.
Thank you Lara for sending these things and telling me all their stories.
* * *
The next post features the last boxes of mystery, for real, and before contacting me with contribution queries, please know I'm unable to accept further items. Seriously. The gathering phase has been wonderful, but overwhelming and I'm ready to be fully immersed in the making. These blog photos are lovely and organized, but I don't launder or sort items until after I've blogged about them (along with a million other rules I've manifested to maintain control), so it gets a little hectic for my Virgo mind.
What I'm saying here is don't be fooled by blogs and the supposed lives of others. This is the cutting table I get to tidy up now. Yup, I'm all full up with the doilies.
The exhibition, Inheritance: makers. memory. myth., is scheduled for May 4 - Sept. 16, 2018 at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, then will immediately travel to the Alaska State Museum in Juneau for November. Some of you have already contacted me to say you're coming to Alaska for the summer of 2018.
I'm actively seeking other venues and would love your ideas. Maybe you won't have to travel so far if this can come to you.
Artist in Anchorage, Alaska, sometimes blogging about the collision of history, family & art, with the understanding that none exists without the other.