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Marie Watt


Saw a lovely textile project here. I heard of Marie Watt through the Lower East Side Printshop, where she has recently done a residency and where I sometimes rent studio space.

Last year she did a series of wonderful projects under the heading Blanket Stories. On her website there are 4 links to the sections of the projects here. She writes:
I am interested in human stories and rituals implicit in everyday objects. Currently I am exploring the history of wool blankets....Blankets hang around in our lives and families – they gain meaning through use. My work is about social and cultural histories imbedded in commonplace objects. I consciously draw from indigenous design principles, oral traditions, and personal experience to shape the inner logic of the work I make. These wool blankets come from family, friends, acquaintances and secondhand stores (I’ll buy anything under $5). As friends come over and witness my blanket project in progress, I am struck by how the blankets function as markers for their memories and stories.

The first link from Oregon Live also has some great writing about the project, which seems to have shown recently at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York:
Eight heads are bent over Watt's dining room table, hands working rhythmically to draw needle and thread through thick wool, affixing hundreds of diamond-shaped pieces of blankets to one of the large panels. Some make strong, bold stitches; others are more hesitant, their stitches a little crooked and unsure. Each one, in Watt's words, is "a different signature," a piece of each person permanently embroidered through the piece. It's no coincidence she decided to call it "Braid." (image above) Some of the people here today know each other already. Others have never met before. Some are artists. Others are family friends of Watt and her husband. Many had already come to several sewing bees at Watt's, even returning with spouses and children on subsequent visits. At first, there is always some silence, but the longer they sit and sew, the more they begin to talk. First about the piece, about what it all means, about sewing they have done, or haven't done in the past. And then gradually with each successive stitch, they begin to reveal more and more about themselves. About raising teenagers. About giving birth. About trips they have taken, discrimination they have experienced. About their ethnic backgrounds, their family histories.


Lovely, no?