Little Women

The Berea Arts Council organized a bunch of events for women’s history month focused on the book Little Women. I really wanted to participate in the art show, but when I read Little Women as a kid it didn’t make a particularly big impression on me. It was just one of the many books I consumed. I wasn’t sure if I had anything to “say” about it. Back then; my foremost impression of the book was that the relationships between the female characters reminded me of aspects of my own family. When considering this project and reviewing the book, my initial impression remains true. It seemed appropriate to create a piece representing the women in my family.

This piece began as a handful of snapshots. I photocopied, cut and pasted them to get the composition I was after. (This meant I had to cut my younger brother out of the photo to make room for my Mom...Sorry Josh.)

I then transferred the image to silk. The silk was basted to cotton muslin to stabilize it. Using embroidery floss, I hand stitched over the image on the silk, eventually obscuring the entire printed image with stitches.

Stitching in this scale, in this loose, painterly manner is a great exercise in letting go of my perfectionism. Recreating the photo exactly is impossible. My goal is to recreate the subjects in such a way that their gestures and postures combined with the images themselves form a likeness.

When writing the artist’s statement for the show, I was reminded of the words of my adolescent self’s favorite poet, Christina Rossetti from her poem “Goblin Market”:

For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.

As sentimental as it is I still appreciate her words. (Even though I am a tad bit embarrassed to admit it...)

My mom and I-way bigger than actual size.