Monday, April 23, 2012

"Chaco Canyon: A Topography of Loss"

Leslie here.  I took an unusual path to create my piece for our "Empty Spaces" exhibition.  Although I love hand-stitching I simply don't create many pieces using embroidery.  My love of hand-stitching was re-ignited in March when I was fortunate to have a one-day workshop with the amazing Mary Ruth Smith.

This piece is a good example of how interesting it can be to allow oneself to work intuitively:  I really had no idea where this was going when I started.  I worked with these shapes, free-cutting the cloth into what turned out to resemble topographical contours.

 The more I looked at the piece as it took form the more I felt it looked like a desert landscape.  Halfway into it I realized I was thinking a great deal about my late sister Priscilla, who passed away in March of 2001.  Interestingly (and I doubt this was a coincidence) I began working on this on the anniversary of her death.  These anniversaries have a way of bringing forth memories; I've learned to honor them.

My sister lived for many years in New Mexico and developed a deep love for the culture and landscape, especially the indigenous peoples of the area.  She immersed herself in the history of the area, particularly the ruins of Chaco Canyon.

When I look at images of the ruins of this place in the high desert I wonder how it became the center of such a thriving culture:  it had a long winter, short growing season, and scant rainfall.

I am captivated by the juxtaposition of the man-made contours of the ruin to the vast emptiness of the landscape.

My sister chose to have part of her ashes scattered in this beautiful place so it has taken on an honored place in my heart.

To finish, I elected to use a facing method for the edges.  I will later stretch this piece onto a frame, and this facing technique works well in conjunction with that and gives the piece a very nice finished edge.  Using white background is highly unusual for me, but somehow it works in this piece.

Once the facing was stitched I clipped the corners and turned the facing.  I had previously fused the facing pieces, so they will adhere nicely to the back of the construction.
I admit that I have not decided which way I prefer to have the piece oriented.
What do you think?

Here are a few details.

Thanks for reading about my journey making this piece.  


Sue Bleiweiss said...

Leslie this is a beautiful piece. The textures are just sublime. Thanks for sharing the journey of how it came to be.

Pamela Price Klebaum said...

This piece is very deep.

Linda Teddlie Minton said...

Oh I love this, Leslie, it's really different from your usual style, and very special.

Although I normally prefer a portrait orientation, in this case I like it in landscape. Have you looked at it upside-down from the landscape view you show here? It seems that it is weighted slightly heavier on what is currently the top side, and might look even better if flipped upside-down.

Sandy said...

I like the vertical orientation the best...great piece...the handwork really makes it sing...

Leslie Tucker Jenison said...

Oh thank you, everyone. It is, indeed, a very different sort of piece for me. I appreciate your comments. Linda, I'll look at it from all sides before I frame it.
Thanks for that feedback! I'm very touched.

Meg in Albuquerque said...

I love this piece, the colors are wonderful, and the individual shapes are very organic. Having been to Chaco this doesn't remind me of the place I've been, it's the place as I I imagine when it was the hub of the area, busling with traders from near and far, children playing in the streets. If your sister spent a lot of time here, I imagine this is what she saw, what a great tribute to your sister and the place.

Gloria Hansen said...

This is VERY beautifuil, Leslie!

Gloria Hansen said...

This is VERY beautifuil, Leslie!