Silently (I Saw a Robin Today)
"Silently (I Saw a Robin Today)" is the first piece I made in the "Homeland" part of "I Live Here Now." It's about my mother and was created with her wedding dress, which she made back in the 70s. I got the idea for this piece while on one of my walks. It was mostly about using the dress as the material and it felt like a strong place to begin. My mother was happy to give me the dress which I hung in my studio for a few days just to look at. Then I got scared. I knew I had one chance to "get it right" and the pressure of that thought made me procrastinate. I decided to ease into it by deconstructing the dress. I thought maybe I could "warm-up" by taking it apart, getting to know the material as I worked. I also thought the process would remove some of the dress' preciousness and it would become less scary to work with.
The process took several days with a long pause in between. I saved every thread as I worked and even crawled around on the floor to retrieve any bits that had fallen. As I worked I thought about my mother and how she felt while she made the dress. I also wondered how she came to choose the pattern and the fabric. These questions sparked an interesting conversation between us and I now know a little bit more about her past. Once I was done I arranged all the pieces on the floor in my studio and took pictures. I still wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but after a few more days I realized the piece was in the process, in the ritual of taking the dress apart and of unraveling a memory of part of her life.
In the following days I focused on the lining of the dress. I had been thinking about making a big necklace that when coiled up would resemble a nest and I liked the idea of giving a presence to something that is usually unseen. I cut each pattern piece of the lining into strips and cut these into four pieces each. I cinched the pieces into bows and tied them around more thread. I later added four gold bows, a subtle reminder of ancient Greek wreaths and diadems, and completed the piece by tying a single knot in every string.