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Clothesline

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On August 22, 2016 I started a time based art project. I’d been downsizing my stash of just about everything. The multiple boxes of workshop samples, worn out jackets some with moth holes, a guild swap blanket I was never able to resolve esthetically were all overwhelming. Shuffling and storing them had dampened my enthusiasm multiple times; things too good to throw away but nobody wants. I’ve dealt with this issue before and done several projects with used books. Conversations with a friend who had just been through this process helped me get up the courage to do away with the things holding me back. I decided to hang the excess outside and let nature take charge.

The project progressed and defined itself. I selected a location, brought up a frame that had been used to cover a car, then began to hang things. I added a few at a time, timidly at first, bringing some things back inside, wimping out on others. I stepped in an ant bed, I knew better, the first day resulting in several painful bites. The project is hard in many ways. It hurts to get rid of things, it is useless to keep them.

I began randomly photographing the pieces and making journal entries. Connections happened. A clothesline emerged. I’ve been photographing clotheslines on various trips for a number of years. They are the “real” part of the country. I started gathering the photos and experimenting with transferring them to organza. I also printed a copy on paper. Hand embroidery worked best on the organza, free motion machine embroidery on the paper copy.

In the meantime nature was doing its part. We were in a long drought condition. The pieces bleached in the strong sun but changed little with the lack of rain. In late November we experienced a huge wind storm and many days of rain. Several of the pieces blew off the frame and I left them where they fell. The rain is now to do its job. Freezing conditions are in the forecast.

The project is now scheduled to end December 22, four months after it started. An outgrowth of the project is to make bundles out of some of the left over samples that didn’t make it onto the clothesline. I am cutting up things I no longer want into small pieces, stacking them up, and tying them together into small bundles. Unlike hanging the pieces out to weather on the clothesline, these bundles give me joy as I remember the stories that go with the pieces I made. I will add what’s left of the clothesline pieces to the bundle project. My intent is to display the bundles along with the clothesline piece. Viewers will be invited to choose a bundle, add a word about why they choose that particular bundle, how it relates to their work, or what they might have left over when they reach my age, and pin the bundle to the display.

Clothesline on December 7, 2016

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