The Wandering Hibiscus

The Wandering Hibiscus

Artist: Lisa Jean Allswede

Title: The Wandering Hibiscus

Attribution: The Wandering Hibiscus

Year: 2020

Materials: Hibiscus photograph embellished with hand & machine embroidery, beads, sequins, zippers, and nails mounted on top of a painted basswood panel

Dimensions: installation includes 50 panels 8”h x 8”w x 1.5”d - display varies at each location

Image Statement: “The Wandering Hibiscus” is my celebration of womanhood. This deeply personal body of artwork stitches together crystalized remembrances of childhood, motherhood, moving, sexuality, aging, and embracing imperfection — panels of vignettes commemorating the memories of an aging woman. Each of these vignettes is composed of a kaleidoscope of threads, sequins, and zippers all tangled together to form a Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. I love the hibiscus as I am drawn firstly to its alluring sensuality. Its ruby, fleshy goodness reminds me to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. In a broader context, the hibiscus symbolizes femininity, warmth, love and passion. The mythology of the flower helps women reclaim their sexuality, vitality, and invincibility in the face of degrading depictions of women in media. I see myself within these descriptors, and have learned to use the flower as a looking-glass into myself. To honor our serendipitous relationship, I began photographing the hibiscus in June 2012 and soon after began sewing on those photographs. From photographs to twisted threads, each vignette is a journey of revelations. I utilized jacked up french knots, misguided sashiko stitches, and jumbled layers of machine stitching to help mend my wounds from womanhood. What began as an unexpected attraction to a flower transformed into a self portrait of sorts; a celebration of a woman in her 50s.