Ghost Prints & Shadow Work
How do you get people to appreciate the work you’re doing when they’re benefitting from your labor, yet not noticing that you’re doing it? Women’s work – their physical labor, their emotional labor -often goes unpaid, underpaid, unnoticed and under appreciated.
With this artwork, I invite people to notice by making it beautiful, by drawing people in, to look more closely. I collect vintage, handmade doilies, in order to print them as photograms using light sensitive dye. Though most people think of lace and doilies as out of style and boring, once they’re transformed into blue and white they become captivating.
These are printed on vintage hankies, which themselves have crocheted edges, so the handwork of unknown women shows up again and again in the work, layer upon layer. That the women are unknown, that their work was sold, cheaply, or given away, is another level of commentary in my work.
Beyond the blue and white, the show includes real, skeletonized leaves, which have been collaged with bits of handwritten letters received by the artist over the years. Fragments of conversation, of long ago gossip, are captured in these leaves. Letters, expressions of love and reports from back home, from those now dead, or contact lost, are all hinted at in bits and pieces on leaves. Sometimes these leaves come together in the form of butterflies. Leaves and butterflies fly across the gallery walls, sometimes singly, and sometimes coming together in larger works.
These text fragments on leaves are about former selves, old identities, and also symbolize family ties, relationships, and the emotional labor usually performed by women.
I most overtly address unpaid labor through a series of time cards, displayed along with a real, vintage time clock. There’s one collaged time card for each day of the week, each one representing a different category of work that women/mothers perform.
Taken all together, viewers take in the range of labor women perform to create a home life for others, raise children, keep connected with family near and far, all while maintaining her own friendships, interests and life. The hope is that by drawing people in with beauty and mystery, they will reflect on the issue of labor in their lives and the lives of those around them.