Twenty women have presented me with textiles now. Some I've shared correspondence with in advance, others have popped things in the mail without notice or slipped me doilies at parties while I madly scribbled notes, "...and where did you say your grandmother is from again...? ...uh huh, so you think she made this when?"
I have a spreadsheet. I'm tagging items. I'm sending teeny tiny gifts and thank you cards. And while much of this makes NO SENSE in terms of what the final outcome will or may be, it feels like a vital part of this process. It's about mark-making, acknowledging, listening, communicating and naming what I can, even if much of it is "Unknown."
The items that arrived a few weeks ago from Helen Geglio are ladened with details. She took the time to sit with each object, to remember and document the life around each item as best she could. The notes are beautiful to look at and I've gone back a number of times to re-read her thoughts while holding each object.
I've never met Helen, but I first discovered her work through the video series Quilt National produced this year*. I watched her speak eloquently about her inspiration, her use of clothing and old fabrics and the conceptual quality of her work. She is a seer and a noticer, and from this -- most wonderful of all -- she is a producer. All qualities I admire.
Part of this kind of mark-making speaks to my own fragile memory and need for written reminders. A friend in undergraduate school said, "See, I know I'm taking enough notes in class if I look over and see I've got exactly half of what you wrote." I still don't know how I feel about that comment 2 decades later. Here are Helen's contributions to the Inheritance Project (yes, it now has a name...fitting, yes?), the headings are mine -- they're how I think of each of these items -- but the excerpts are from her writings.
The Bathing Beauty.
Maybe Grandma LeVett.
*This is Helen Geglio speaking about her work exhibited at Quilt National 2015.
If you are new to this blog and aren't sure what's going on but would like to learn more, please check out the category Boxes Of Mystery there on the side bar. You could start with the first Box of Mystery, or a post called Splitting open the idea. That'll get you up to speed.
You can also now follow the #InheritanceProject on Instagram: @amymeissnerartist.
It's kind of fun.
And lastly, a year ago, I wrote this.
Artist in Anchorage, Alaska, sometimes blogging about the collision of history, family & art, with the understanding that none exists without the other.