busy busy busy

In a study of social ecology, I have been embroidering (very much not by hand) merit badges.  And them some.

This is for a project that will go up this summer at Fieldwork, in Brooke Valley, outside Perth, Ontario.   This is the main place I grew up in, and have many memories of being a child there.  I was thinking about the things and events that are big deals to a child, accomplishments or types of skills we develop that get discounted beside more practical skills, or forgotten when we become adults, or move to the city.


Skating over weeds frozen into ice, discovering secret patches of flowers in the forest, or going to the outhouse at night – these were kind of major events for me as a child, and examples of the types of experiences I wanted to mark.  With a badge.  For merit.

These are what this project is offering to the Fieldwork site, and the local community.  Whether each person that visits the site is a local or not, I want them to have a merit badge.  Either they have had similar experiences growing up in a small rural community, or they are visiting the area for a taste of life there.  Here  the overlooked and idiosyncratic experiences of daily life in the country will be commemorated.  Merit badges for all!

The structure or architecture of this dissemination will be three pavilions spread throughout the field, like in the maquette shown here.

I want them to be quite tall, so the banner or flag at the top furls, falls and blows in the wind,

much more so than what is indicated.  I want the fabric to flow through the sky, and lift my heavy heart to celebrate a place that I come from.

However, most of my attention at present is on the embroidery of both the badges and the nylon for the pavilions’ awnings, shown below.  These are snippets from random memories that serve to contextualize the piece somewhat, reinforcing the specificity of the site, of the particular community that is and has been Brooke Valley.

I have struggled somewhat at choosing memories that could be described as making up a minor scale rather than a major one.  Many important events have happened, people who have come and passed, important contributors whom I have never known.  It is not a community memorial or history marker that I am making, therefore, but an attempt to recreate the proportions and perspective of a child’s memory, and commemorate the experiences I had there, and to share this celebration with the local community and all who visit the Field this summer.

It is somewhat ironic then to be drawing upon the richness of those life experiences in the forest and land, turning them into images and text, and finally thread, while working in a sterile, empty, controlled space that is the textile lab at Concordia.

I so look forward to installing this project in a real, live, honest-to-god field!   Space!  Trees!  Crickets!  Blackflies!

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