The Thread of Bearing Witness
The two most influential exhibitions I attended while abroad were JOSEPHINE at the Musee du Luxembourg, and Lace Effects 2 at The International City of Lace and Fashion in Calais. While there, I became enamored with Josephine Bonaparte and this idea of French taste. I learned that once Josephine became Empress, she was almost always on display. She was the best dressed woman and acted as an ambassador for French distinction. She fulfilled the Emperor’s wish of making his court the most luxurious in Europe and promoted national textile industries, particularly those in Lyon. Her outfits were remarked upon and copied in all the European Courts. Josephine was a French icon who left an imprint of femininity on French culture and an Empire. The exhibition displayed her taste in art, fashion, jewelry, and stylish furnishings.
The International City of Lace and Fashion in Calais had a much different take on lace and style. The museum had an industrial factory that was making lace although I was in attendance. I was able to walk through the entire chronological history of lace in Calais. There was a mix of contemporary artists using lace, and the historical background of making and wearing lace. This exhibition broke down lace for me in the sense that threads are divided, woven, twisted, knotted, and interlaced. This museum attempted to bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary by showing all the technical skills required for handmade and manufactured lace.
The two styles of printmaking I chose for this project are copper etching and screen printing. The copper plate is 9” by 12” and the screen is 22” by 30”. I chose copper for its tradition in printmaking and to offset that I chose screen printing as a more contemporary style of image making. I screen printed on fabric in an attempt to make my own textile being influenced by all I saw in The Palace of Versailles. Along with printmaking I have also endeavored in making a relief sculpture, in the hopes that there can be a language made between the two dimensional and the three dimensional. The project all along has been about combining ideas and techniques that seem like they would not fit. I enjoy the bizarre nature of seamlessly fitting together these objects and philosophies through my art.
When I started printmaking I worked a lot with cheese cloth, threads, rope, and yarn. All of these materials led me to a curiosity in fabrics and textiles. I specifically became aware of my attention to lace. The delicate fabric is of great importance in my own work, so it only seemed natural to make it a part of my research. The material conjures a lot of history and femininity in this art project. My work and this project exemplify an inquisitiveness of combining textiles, fabric and lace with the human body. There is fluidity to fabrics; it is not something we live with, but something we live in.