Stitched Works

Embroidery, Scrolls, Installations, Handwriting, Sewing

 

"I — Abundance — Saying We" published in Matter Issue 3

 

"Objects & Didactics" published in Elective Affinities

 

Writings on Stitching

(published in slightly different form in SET / a journal)

1. The Sound of Writing versus the Sound of Stitching: The fleshy side of my hand moving over paper. A room with ten or more people writing together. The break in the classroom is the turn of a page. The pop of the needle going through fabric. The pull of the thread, a long note, followed again by a pop and a pause as I reach around to the back of the hoop to recover the needle. Again the sound of the pull, the sound between decisions.

2. Archive versus Excerpt: Copy every word of the Wagner Labor Archive finding guide. Note the changes in your body as you fill red notebooks with this information in your handwriting. Scan any page from these notebooks, enlarge some words, trace them onto fabric, and stitch. Note the changes in your body as you do not fill up the entire piece of fabric.

3. Fast versus Slow: In my notebook there are dashes as language trails off without ending thoughts. My eyes are often blurred as I write. I photographed 99 notebooks in July, each stamped in red: “LABOR ARCHIVE: J. Magi” and then sent half away to be destroyed. When I embroider I am excited to begin yet dread the time it will take to finish.

4. Whole Word versus Font: Writing, the emphasis is in moving across, connecting letters into whole words, words into phrases, possibly. Stitching, each letter appears in parts: the verticals of “t” and the rounded “a.” An “s” is made by lines on the diagonal, less rounded than I thought. There is very little space within the loop of the “e.”

5. Labor versus Labor: Paid or unpaid. Unpaid in order to be paid. Returns on investments from others’ labors or without this passed down. An archive, a birth, a movement.

6. Black Thread on Unbleached Muslin versus Black Marker on Newsprint: Connect your beginnings in writing to your beginnings in teaching: newsprint and black marker—then the notebook—then back onto the wall but this time partial, private: unbleached muslin and black thread.

7. Ink versus Thread versus Computer: Ink is absorbed by paper: marks lie flat, bleed into the fibers, pooling where I kept the pen down for a second longer than usual. Thread sits atop fabric, but incorporated: a loop, a puncture, moving through. If a stitch is loose, the space between the thread and the fabric shows. Pixilated edges signal hand rather than machine. Unlike ink, embroidery floss catches light. Even white thread on white fabric reflects, shines like hair in contrast to skin. Typing, I watch words become typeset and the book I desire comes into being on screen. If notebook writing is lonely, then the self in front of the computer is pathologically so—checking for virtual contact: the screen to the internet remains open. The self who leans over her stitching could care less. The loop provides the feedback.

8. Display versus the Theca Subsumed: Breaking open the privacy of budgets and a job search: taboo, even while my struggle is “part of a larger economic trend.” Front of the embroidered surface, well dressed, versus the messier back: unseen yet it must be there. Soon, the theca, the outer egg-producing layers of the ovaries, will be subsumed by the inner part of the ovaries that will function, stronger than ever, to secure my pleasure. This is a life stage: self cannibalism but not martyrdom.