Stephen Sollins has recently exhibited his “deconstructed” embroidered samplers from his Elegy Series. Sollins takes samplers and removes the stitching, counts the stitches by colour and then embroiders a modernist geometric grid over the top.
I have very mixed feelings about this practice as although a trace of the original can still be seen it effectively wipes out the original stitchers work. I find the most disconcerting line “Sollins eulogizes the anonymous craftsperson while elevating commonplace linens to fine art.”
Why do I find this treatment of textiles so disconcerting? I see samplers as historical documents. They are objects of their time with a particular cultural tradition. Since samplers were most often stitched by women, as historical documents that relate to women’s history, traditions and womens’s art practice.
What I see here is an anonymous woman’s handwork and her history being stripped bare to be replaced not with praise but with a dominant voice. That voice of course being one of ‘fine art’ as distinctly suspect term in my book.
What do others think?