My project “Spin Club Tapestry” explores cultural memory by embroidering photographs, inspired by the tradition of spin clubs in Northern Germany. I grew up in a small farming village in Northern Germany. A village that is bound to its history and that stands out through its traditions even today. Long ago, village women met regularly in "Spinneklumps" (Spin Clubs) to spin wool, embroider, and stitch fabrics for their homes. I imagine their conversations as they worked, the beautiful stories that lifted their spirits, as well as the stories of sadness, sorrow and loss. In modern times, village women continued to meet in this tradition, but shared stories over coffee and cake instead of needlework. In this series, my composite images take the form of tapestries, combining images of embroidered Spin Club fabrics with new and old photographs from the village. I connect the present and the past by re-creating and re-imagining pieces of the embroidery. Spin Club tablecloths, napkins and wall hangings (some dating back to 1799) have been passed down from generation to generation. By following the stitches in these fabrics, I follow a path through the lives of my ancestors - their layout of a perfect pattern and the mistakes they made. Along the way, I add my own mistakes. The fabrics also reveal the passage of time, stained and distorted after sometimes decades of use. The patterns I have stitched myself into the paper are only abstractions of the original Spin Club designs, fragments of memory. After all, memory is fleeting, and changed forever in the act of recollection. Sometimes the stitching is incomplete, creating an invitation for future generations. Every decision we make is influenced by our history, our environment, and the society we live in. The tapestry of my life belongs to me but is stitched through with the beauty and heartache of past generations.
My recent work expands an ongoing investigation of the interaction of memory, the passage of time, a sense of place, and of identity through the visual interpretation of “Into the Twilight” by Irish poet William Butler Yeats in 1899. Yeats wrote “Into the Twilight” at a very dark period in Ireland, and believed that the country was on the verge of a reawakening. He compared this period poetically to twilight, a magical, transformational time when the day is full of possibility. The poem eloquently speaks to the coming of enlightenment, the divine power of nature, and the transformational force that converges as a result of joining the two. My interest in this poem came through my Irish ancestry. The stories of the magic and lore of Ireland permeated my childhood and were ever present within the lives of my parents and grandparents, and their grandparents as well. As my work revolves around memory, I am keenly interested in how it forms our sense of being and how that can be affected by the contradictions that the past and the present pose. I found this poem to speak to both the past and the present in light of the current of change and unrest that has taken over the world today. As a visual artist, I have found the qualities of photography, darkroom and digital manipulation, and the malleability of fine-art materials—paint, wax, and pencil—to be uniquely sympathetic to my investigation. These allow me to intercede in the moment that a fixed image presents, juxtaposing within it a deeply subjective view of reality, formed in the shadow of remembrance. This body of work combines darkroom photograph prints created from my own photographs and vintage photographs that I have found. The images are printed, then toned with coffee and painted with oils, then become part of the overall collage with vintage book pages and pigment-printed acetate photographs. These materials are layered in two-page-spread layouts echoing the format of a book without words. There is one image for each of the 16 stanzas in the quatrain-style poem with the title of each image representing a stanza of the poem. The elements of new and old together create a metaphorical allusion suspending the imagery into a timeless state connecting nature, time, and memory.
In my series “Pole Vault” I’ve tried to show this aesthetic sport differently from regular sports photography. I’ve chosen a very minimalist, artistic composition. The movement of the pole- vaulters is captured as their bodies are flying through the air and gracefully seeming to defy gravity. Without ever showing a full body or an action, I try to stimulate the viewer’s imagination.
Around the thirties of last century the fashion of the beach was born, a phenomenon of custom and social ritual which is still alive today. A playful and non-exclusive space, it soon turned into a sort of free zone shared by people from different social backgrounds, who play with the same chances, undressed from roles and functions. On the beach it is difficult to distinguish hierarchies and social statuses that we identify in everyday life through the possession and display of objects that symbolize them. You can recognize the street vendors, with their poor wares, sometimes treated with tolerant grace, others with hidden annoyance, each of them hiding dramatic stories that no one wants to hear. It is the sweet and even a little bitter taste of these places, the reason that prompted me to produce a series of images to try to fix gestures and attitudes of our age that are repeated in a transversal, almost codified way. A work of subtraction, selection and collage, to isolate and reveal with a pinch of irony, situations that are camouflaged in the confusion.
"Nature is not outside us, it is within." So wrote the late Irish poet-philosopher John O’Donoghue. To experience the natural landscape at its most serene is to venture within and to remind ourselves of our own essence. This work captures the natural world in moments of stillness - intimate portraits of elements of the landscape that emerge from prolonged immersion - time to experience what O'Donohue called the 'ancient, outer ease of the world'. These images are then layered and blended with gold leaf or gouache paint onto translucent Japanese paper.