If you visit Gallery A3 in Amherst, Massachusetts, this month you can see one of my abstract embroidery pieces in a group show there. Wrinkle Embroidery VIII (The Fallen Stars) is one of 55 works chosen for the exhibit by John Stomberg, director of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.
Bonnie Sennott, Wrinkle Embroidery VIII (The Fallen Stars), 2015, perle cotton on linen,
14 x 14 inches
There's a reception for the artists tomorrow (Saturday, July 11) from 4 to 7 pm. I'll be there early on, during the first hour or so. Come say hi!
As with my other wrinkle embroidery pieces, I began this one by purposely wrinkling the linen, then tracing the wrinkles with back stitch or running stitch. I work out the compositions of my wrinkle embroidery pieces as I go, with a process that's a mix of chance (how the fabric wrinkles) and choice (which wrinkles I choose to stitch). I rarely rip out, as it stresses the fabric. So the process is a lot like drawing with pen and ink—no erasing, no going back.
I started this one about a year ago, worked on it intensely for a while, then left it alone as I pondered what should come next. When I began adding in the brightly colored satin stitch, the piece took on a joyful tone.
But as I worked, this piece was always linked in my mind to last summer, because when I first began it Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 had just been shot down over the fields of Ukraine. So many innocent people killed. Such a terrible, unspeakable tragedy.
The bright colors I used for the satin stitch were the joyful colors of summer, the colors of zinnias. But joy and beauty is only part of the story. I decided I wanted this piece to be more truthful. Eventually, I turned it upside down, so the "stars" fell. Later I introduced a wedge of black French knots, as a visual disruption that pierces the brightness.
Because that's how we are as a species, aren't we? Capable of great joy, and of acting with selflessness and kindness and love. But we're also capable of shooting children and their stuffed animals out of the sky on a sunny summer day.
If you're in western Massachusetts, I hope you can make it to the reception tomorrow or stop by another time. The show continues through August 1; the gallery is located in the Amherst Cinema Building in downtown Amherst (you can't miss it) and hours are 1–7 pm, Thursday–Sunday.
Thank you very much for reading!