Explore Fiber is a collaborative website showcasing and exploring fiber as a fine art material.
I helped move my surrogate mother into nursing care this last summer, and her son and I went through the 4th and final downsizing of her life. An artist and close family friend, I have had years of wonderful experiences with her. Each paring down of her belongings and the memories of her life has been a careful process which has involved her at each step. As she only has one child, a son, my role as her surrogate daughter has been so very sweet. We have our “visits” in the evening when I get her ready for bed. I order her books (she’s a voracious reader) to beat back the boredom of being confined to her one room and wheelchair.
We fluffed out her one room nest the best we could: a digital picture frame with a rotating gallery of family memories, her painting of hydrangeas on a window sill, a string of dragonflies strung across the doorway that quiver in the breeze, and 3 pen and ink drawings of the houses she lived in during her life. Her home was filled with wonderful art, many pieces that she created. But now, there is only room for what really matters, and it is no surprise that the drawings of her homes are what she chooses to include in her limited art collection.
Stephanie K. Clark’s embroidered homes are enchanting, capturing nostalgia and the documentation of a time and place. Her picture plane is spare. Foliage surrounding a house is but a stitched line. All of the emphasis is on the house which is embroidered in living color. The texture of the house and the careful stitching talk to me about the texture of that family’s life and the way they stitched their lives together – day by day, stitch by stitch. I look at the various houses she has created, and I wonder about each one. What family lived there? How long were they in their house? What place is the house in? These stitchings feel so intimate to me, but also feel like they could be anywhere.
I’ve spent many years with my elder friends, and my time with them has been one of observation and reflection. How will I fare when I transition into my later years? What will I be able to part with; what will I want to keep close? How will I feel about tethering to my past as I face my future? I look at my sweet friend’s pen and ink drawings, and I think that they are beautifully rendered, stately and formal, but they seem devoid of life. Stephanie’s embroidered dwellings are rich in warmth and story. They beg to be touched. They show the hand, the heart and the soul of the house. I know I want the warmth, the color, the texture of fiber to show my home, to show my life.