During my Yuyuan Road Artist Residency in Shanghai, the last thing I expected to encounter was a recollection of my past. I’d grown up in a small midwestern town in the U.S. and now I was in the world’s largest city, a culture, and continent completely apart. I’d never been to China and wondered how I might make art that resonated in such a foreign place. Yet as I observed the many dress and tailor shops, heard the buzzing of cicadas, felt the humidity and heat which also pervaded my childhood summers I was transported back in Shanghai of all places.
My mother a seamstress, taught her four daughters to sew every June and July while school was on break. We spent hours in the basement diligently completing newly constructed outfits for the county fair. My sisters and I drank Pepsi’s and listened to ‘90s country music on the radio while we worked. These paintings contemplate the hours laying and cutting out pattern pieces, working at the sewing machine, and being together. As I created here on Yuyuan Road, memories of the shapes’ visual dialogue flowed from my fingertips and my longing for those days was visceral.
These works employ my extrusion painting process on substrates sewn from synthetic textiles. Polypropylene woven sacks used to transport everything from mail to recycling are seen piled high on bicycles and scooters getting ingeniously from one part of the city to another. 3D-spacer polyester mesh often used in the manufacturing of running shoes transports our feet one deliberate step at a time. I’ve included everyday, functional materials such as sponges and towels (used to transport dirt/grime, water, and soap) or in the case of drawer liner to keep objects from transport. The irony of being transported back home by such a faraway and disparate culture was perhaps ironic. Perhaps it was my way of responding to a challenging new environment with a kind of religious contemplation and peaceful tranquillity.