When I look at fabrics, embroidered with threads of many colors, I find beauty amongst the layers in front of me. Like people, fiber art is very diverse in its techniques, materials, and styles. Unlike traditional media like painting, drawing and photography, I enjoy that the imagery and the materials have a more vibrant interaction, a balance between the idea and the medium that is being used to express it. I have adopted textile art as one of my main mediums because it is a new way for me to visually interpret ideas and thoughts to others who view my work.
Choosing the subject for an artwork is usually my hardest decision. Most of the time, I work backwards, selecting the colors and materials first. I work with cotton fabrics, fiber-reactive dyes, and polyester or cotton thread. The process of drawing with thread is one that I have challenged myself with in recent years. It has proved to be difficult at times, but worthwhile in the end because I usually end up with magnificent results. Also present in my work is symbolism, which can be seen in the colors, imagery, and dye processes. I am not solely concerned with representing a recognizable subject, but instead I combine imagery with the non-representational use of color and other design elements to symbolize emotions and ideas.
The focus of this body of work is the incompleteness of the fulfillment of life as seen by four subjects in various stages: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and senior adulthood. Ideas that I want to get across to my viewer for each stage are that children are full of possibility, adolescents are often misunderstood, adults live quite a routine and busy life, and senior adults either look at their life as a second chance of possibility or an ending. Each stage is unfinished in its own way, but the interpretation is up to the viewer.
My favorite piece, Adolescence, uses various techniques to capture its stage. The colors that I used represent the awkwardness of this trying time in life. A viewer may or may not accept the color combination as “pretty,” but they are harmonious when representative of frustration and delusion. The imagery that I used- a musical staff, a bicycle, and words- all symbolize the subject’s personal ideas of adolescence. For example, the bicycle allows for freedom at a young age and the beginning of separation from one’s elders. The staff is symbolic of musical interests and hobbies of the subject that he has carried with him from childhood and plans to carry with him throughout the remainder of his life. As for the textile elements, cotton was used on each piece, and I used silk organza as a metaphor for the invisibility most teens often feel. Lastly, the sketchy quality of the stitching is characteristic of my unfinished outlook on human life.
Unfinished is a body of work I have been planning for quite some time. To see the artwork actually in front of me is an experience I cannot explain. I am overjoyed to have completed this body of work, reflecting on all that I have learned and will learn, for I too am unfinished.
© 2012 Whitney Andrews, Rights Reserved
Senior Capstone Exhibitions, Fall 2012, senior adults, unfinished, four stages of life