|"Woman with Scarab" 2016|
I have immortal longings in me. —Shakespeare
“Woman With Scarab” and “Grace” were each hand stitched on a hoop frame. Because they are a smaller size than my usual work, I brought these pieces with me to work on when I traveled. With both of them, I’m interested in playing with contrasting and harmonizing patterns and colors and I chose the images and designs more for visual reasons than for any particular symbolic meaning. Although the Egyptian scarab and the Islamic motifs evoke distinct cultures, here they represent “Culture” in a general way, just as the portraits, taken out of context, no longer represent a specific person.
The figure in “Woman With Scarab” references the painting “Portrait of a Young Woman” by Antonio Pollaiolo, 1475. She is stitched with small squares that mimic mosaic tiles and is juxtaposed on top of a geometric pattern. I created the design of the dress using an Islamic floral pattern and added a large scarab to her hair.
The figure in “Grace” comes from a photograph of an unnamed woman in the book “Portraits of the Insane, the Case of Dr. Diamond”, who I used as my model. I find that there is an incongruent and transcendent joy and grace that emanates from her, and I wanted to capture some of it in my stitching. I worked on this piece when I visited my dying mother, and that changed the way that I came to interpret its meaning. The background is an imperfectly copied Islamic geometric design that I think perfectly symbolizes the pulsing energy of the universe. I added the chicken because I liked the way it related to the pattern of the dress, but I later thought: the chicken is going home to roost.