I constantly write quotes and important dates on scraps of paper because I like history. In 2020 they piled up and haunted me. All the noise coming through radio, media outlets and rattling around my head had to be organized, edited and preserved through art = my personal story. Via zoom I talked with many other textile artists who had spent their hours pulling loops and stitching work that would last beyond these days. They were my inspiration and helped in finding my own voice.
How would I start? By July 2020 I was removed enough from the well planned life of Jan/Feb and the abrupt change when covid-19 entered my world to start composing. What size linen should I cut off the bolt? I decided on the full width and ended up with a runner 54 x 24. I could dedicate 9″ to each of the six months. One decision made. Here are the rest which evolved as I worked.
- Use stark neutrals as background fabric to indicate mood of the month. Cold and harsh first 6 months = blacks and natural. The second half became warm tans and browns as events heated up. Besides, my dwindling inventory of fabric didn’t have enough black/whites left.
- In lockdown I would use what I had, including at one point cutting up an old pair of black jogging pants.
- There would be pictures to attract people from a distance and words to communicate two ways. The images would form an active path zig-zagging through the months. Different techniques were needed to get detail : embroidery, applique’, along with horizontal hooking for the background which helped form the letters.
- The covid symbol would float throughout until eradicated. Becoming a major element in many months, and more routinely designed as the year progressed.
- Quotes would be credited. For variety colors of symbolic logos, political parties, historic events (suffrage purple, gold, green, white) were interspersed with the neutral high contrast lettering.
- Include my own personal story along with global events. After all this is my historical record. I didn’t want to memorialize the negative feelings I had and spent time editing the pile of quotes by President Trump to just one in March. Rug hooking is therapeutic and the time spent on this project should help me process and heal.
The first panel came together over the months of July and August. I hooked away listening to the Conventions, jotting down more quotes as the loops filled in the spaces. I thought the second composition would continue right away but found I had to put it aside until March of 2021. With distance it flowed easily, after a few adjustments the second six months panel was completed in just 28 days. I did not compare them except for the checklist of designing. The border uses the same rainbow fabric from Dorr Mill and two rows of black fabric (although slightly different) ties them together along with the monthly change in values and visual pattern. These must be seen to appreciate the multiple stories and techniques. Their first exhibit was an invitational “Social Studies” at Beckley Art Center, Beckley, WV May 14 – June 19, 2021. Here are some detail images.
The journal is published online ‘West Virginians’ Creative Responses to COVID-19: A Digital Exhibit’ and in the Fall issue of Goldenseal.