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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 first part of the project is 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.

Clothesline on December 7, 2016

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Instillation at Rangsit University, Bangkok, Thailand

Bundles are groups of things tied or bound together. They can be practical or ceremonial. I first began to think about bundles on a trip to Peru where we observed a ceremony that included a sacred bundle containing items as old as 100 years. The bundles in this exhibit are made from things I’ve created over many years. I present them here for your observation and invite you to add words that describe a memory that comes to mind when holding a bundle, or reflect on what will become the bundles of your life in future years.
I asked students to respond to one of the bundles and pin it to the display along with their comments.

The final day of the year fell on the solar eclipse.
In the end, I knew I’d just bring the leftovers back inside and end up dealing with them all over again. Things I no longer wanted but were too good to throw away. So I burned them and scattered the ashes (so to speak) along a favorite path that held only good memories. They had truly gone back to nature.

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