Artist: Michele Pollock
Title: How Grief Moves Through the Heart (detail)
Attribution: How Grief Moves Through the Heart, 2022, Michele Heather Pollock
Materials: Foraged invasive Bittersweet vines; raffia; paper left over from bookbinding work I can no longer do because of chronic illness; interfacing; cotton embroidery thread; cotton sewing thread; waxed linen thread
Dimensions: 26" x 8" x 4"
Image Statement: Over the past year or so, while coming to terms with being diagnosed with Scleroderma (a rare autoimmune disease that makes it difficult to do many things, including machine stitching), I started hand quilting, burning, and hand embroidering into paper that I eco-dyed using leaves from my forest floor. The small intuitive quilts are like fragile skins, like maps to unknown places, like the shapes of cells and antibodies under the microscope. I foraged invasive Bittersweet vines from my woods, where they wrap around small trees and branches and can be harvested with amazing spiral shapes. When I laid out the vines on my workbench and twined them with raffia where they touched, it created a solid structure with curved shapes and spaces between the vines. I've been searching for ways to "frame" or present my little quilts, and I cut pieces to fit in some of the spaces between the vines and attached them to the vines using waxed linen thread and a modified bookbinding stitch. In the remaining spaces, I wanted something more open, less solid, to contrast with the quilts. I looped in those spaces using fine cotton variegated sewing thread that I waxed with beeswax. These "webs" are delicate and messy, yet dimensionally stable. They have holes and ragged spots yet remain structurally sound and have their own strange beauty, like old cobwebs in nature but also like my tangled emotions, my struggle to come to terms with my illness and remain intact.