Nearly a month ago I met with my friend Nathan Vincent (I wrote about Nathan in my post The Fine Art of Crochet.) to discuss a collaborative project on which we are working. One of the things I like about being a pint-maker is the ability to reproduce an image in a variety of way, in a variety of contexts. I often will do a run of etchings on paper, then on vintage hankies, and often on other vintage fabrics. Each of these iterations can bring out a slightly different aspect in the image. Eventually I will tire of the plate, or feel that the image has said all that I want it to and then retire the plate on which the image is etched. Just before retiring the plate I’ve been most recently working with, I made a set of etchings on some antique linen that I’d had in the bottom of my closet, and gave them to Nathan. This is the second time Nathan and I have collaborated, and I’m rather excited to see just what he comes up with in regard to the etching that I gave him for inspiration.
Nathan and I became acquainted when he had a residency and I was working at the Museum of Arts and Design. Although we come from rather different backgrounds and our points of view are not necessarily the same, we seem to share a certain aesthetic, and a certain sense of humor in our work. I’d sent him the etchings some time earlier, but we’d not had the opportunity to get together and discuss the project until the sixth of June. Nathan suggested that we meet at an “Embroidery Slam.” I was intrigued. Embroidery Slam? The Embroidery Slam was an event organized by the artist Iviva Olenick. The recipe for the Embroidery slam is rather like a cocktail:
one part embroidery circle
one part poetry reading
one half part concert
one a dash of sewing lesson (optional)
Nathan reminded me that I’d seen Iviva’s work at his home. Artists tend to have rather interesting and good art collections, and the last time I was at Nathan’s home I walked right past the Keith Haring and over to two tiny frames half way up his staircase. They were the daintiest pieces of vintage fabric with text, lines of poetry, embroidered on them. There was an immediate attraction to the work. Iviva, as do I, works with vintage fabrics. She, as do I, has a love of words and language. (I may be primarily a print-maker but I earned my degree writing poetry.) The event sounded like it would be a lot of fun, and I agreed to meet a bit before the event started to discuss some of our ideas in regard to the collaboration and then to attend the Poetry Slam. I was also rather excited to meet Iviva.
Iviva was charming, and the evening was a delight. It started off with a moment of instruction in which everyone learned to do a back stitch. The back stitch is what Iviva primarily uses when printing text on her work. Embroidery hoops and fabric, needles and floss were all provided. We took out supplies and found our seats. The instructions were that we should find a phrase in the poetry that was being read and embroider it. Typical of a poetry reading there was a mixed bag of talent and styles, but that is to be expected. What was unexpected was that during the silences the popping of needle through fabric could be heard throughout the room. Preceding, and again following, a brief intermission (at which people could wander to the bar and get a beer or cocktail) there was a musical performance. Participating poets included: Jeanette Anderson, Mahogany Browne, Robert Colpitts, Liz Daily, Megan DiBello, Jessica Elaesser, Kevin Kinsella, Iviva Olenick, Monte Olenick, Montana Ray, Purvi Shah and Kris Wettstein. The music was provided by Christina Martin + friends.
Contrary to the instructions I did not embroider a line of poetry from the poems read that evening, but rather a verse from the bible, but with a twist. Rather than the plain English that I would normally use:
The people that walked in darknesse, haue seene a great light:
I used the Polari translation: