All flesh is grass.

“All flesh is grass” is an ongoing series of soft sculptures exploring labor, fragility, and the body.

I encountered this phrase at the Medieval Museum in Waterford, Ireland in a small ‘speech ribbon’ coming from the mouth of an illustrated saint. I’ve been meditating on it ever since.

Boustrophedon

AllFleshIsGrass_05
“Boustrophedon,” 2015-16, hand-spun yarn embedded in men’s shirts with embroidery thread

“Boustrophedon” is a method of writing text first in one direction and then in the other, as an “ox turns” to plow a field.

"Boustrophedon," detail of yarn 'rows' embedded in shirts, using a modified version of 'couching' embroidery stitches
“Boustrophedon,” detail of yarn ‘rows’ embedded in shirts, using a modified version of ‘couching’ embroidery stitches

States of Becoming Sand

States of Becoming Sand, periwinkle shells and thread on pillowcase, © Amanda Wagstaff 2016
States of Becoming Sand, periwinkle shells and thread on pillowcase, © Amanda Wagstaff 2016

Walking along the coast at Howth, just outside of Dublin, was one of my favorite rituals during my life in Ireland, and I enjoyed watching the coast and cliffs change throughout the seasons. There are a few spots along the cliffs at Howth where smooth pebbles, sea glass, and shells accumulate. In particular, small, bright white periwinkle shells litter these beaches. I began collecting these shells and broken shell parts, because I was so attracted to their smooth surfaces, and because they stood out so starkly against the darker, more colorful bits of beach.

And also because they reminded me of passages in Annie Dillard’s book “For the Time Being.” The book is a long meditation on the natural world, humans, and suffering. It is about the tension between the individual and the universe.

Throughout the book, she meditates on ten subjects, one of which is “Sand.” She tells the natural history of sand, the process of it’s formation, how rock is worn down by wind and water, how sand is transformed by tremendous pressure into more rock. Sand travels thousands of miles. It accumulates. Everything becomes sand.

SAY

“S A Y,” altered dish towels, 2017.

 

 

Untitled

For now. But it might be something along the lines of “St. Sebastian Strikes Back,” or “Resistance,” or “Squeeze Me.”

“Untitled,” polyester and wool fabrics, polyester batting, quilter’s and dressmaker’s pins, embroidery thread, 2017

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