Some members of the Handmade Division are talking about the question, "What item have you created that you most treasure and why?". This is a collection of items, my MFA thesis installation from 2001 at the Memphis College of Art. Titled Risen, it was an homage to the struggle of textile workers of the past and present.
There were three red velvet capes, each trimmed with with hundreds of keys and embossed with images of bread loaves, wheat, and roses. Cornell University gave me an audio recording of an interview with a survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, and her voice emanated from one of the capes. 146 people died in the Shirtwaist fire because they were locked in the factory, many jumped to their deaths from the windows. From another came Utah Phillips telling labor camp stories and singing Bread and Roses, a famous protest song from the Lawrence textile mills strike.
A nine foot banner hung on the wall, made from fabric, clothing labels, sewing pins, and hundreds of black buttons spelling From Nimble Fingers a Fist. A pile of mens white dress shirts sat in the center of the gallery.
A black protest armband was displayed on a pedestal. The black seed beads spell the names of clothing designers who produce their lines in China. I was honored when this piece was purchased by Marilyn Lanfear, whose work I so admire.
I'm not sure if treasure is the right way to describe how I feel about these pieces, the few that remain were stashed in the attic long ago using non-archival methods. But I truly treasure having had the experience of immersing myself in art and academia for two solid years with not much to distract me, and the opportunity to grow creatively and find the discipline to create a cohesive body of work that really meant something to me.
Please visit the other artists talking about this topic:
Jewelry by Natsuko
Alice Istanbul Designs
Bill Martin - Purified Art
Andes Cruz Designs