Reliquary by Amy Meissner

My first encounter with Alaskan artist Amy Meissner’s work was at the Anchorage Museum at the Rasmuson Foundation. Her piece Spontaneous Combustion received the Juror’s Choice Award at Earth, Fire, and Fibre XXIX.

“Spontaneous Combustion” (54″ x 77″) Wool, cotton, vintage domestic linens. Machine pieced, hand embroidered & appliquéd, hand quilted, 2013. *Juror’s Choice Award, “Earth, Fire & Fibre XXIX” biennial exhibition, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. *Permanent Collection, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Alaska.

My first thought when I saw the piece was who is this Amy Meissner? Where did she come from? And where did she get her mad hand skills?

“Reliquary #2: Just Keep It” (32.5″ x 32.5″) Wool, silk, cotton voile & velvet, vintage linens & drapery, hair, found objects. Machine pieced, hand embroidered & quilted, 2015

I have never seen take such beautiful hand work taken to such dark places. I find her work to be a truly wickedly brilliant juxtapostion of hand and mind.

“Girl Story #2” (35.25” x 35.25”) Vintage domestic linens, silk organza, cheese cloth, ink. Hand embroidered, hand quilted, 2014.

Amy and I are both members of SAQA and have been slowly (too slowly) getting to know each other through meetings. We have lots in common–young kids, a background in writing, and an obsessive love of the stitch, but our approaches to all of these are radically different.

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“Reliquary #8: Scroll” (3″ x 325″, installation dimensions variable) Vintage domestic linens & drapery, abandoned quilts & embroideries, silk organza, found objects. Machine pieced, hand embroidered, 2015.

I suppose that is part of why I am so drawn to her work.

Reliquary #8 Scroll Detail

Amy’s solo show Reliquary is currently being exhibited at the Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer, Alaska. I asked Amy if I could share her artist statement along with some images of work in the show, and she graciously agreed.

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“Reliquary #5: Theft” (16″ x 16″ x 2″) Abandoned quilt, cotton voile, vintage domestic linens, unspun wool fiber, found objects. Machine pieced, machine & hand embroidered, upholstered onto cradled board, 2015.

Here is what Amy has to say about her work. “Hand stitching isn’t fast work. It’s a quiet skill that feels tenuous, nearly lost when placed in a contemporary context.”

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“Reliquary #7: Tooth” (16″ x 16″ x 2″) Vintage domestic linens, cotton, wool, abandoned embroideries, silk mesh, found object. Machine pieced, hand embroidered & quilted, upholstered onto cradled board, 2015.

“Slipping fast away, like childhood, like domesticity, like safety beneath the weight of something handmade.”

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“Reliquary #6: Key” (16″ x 16″ x 2″) Vintage domestic linens & drapery, silk mesh, cotton voile, unspun wool fiber, found objects. Machine pieced & embroidered, hand embroidered & quilted, upholstered onto cradled board, 2015.

“I sew because I don’t know what it is to not sew, because I come from sewing women–seamstresses, factory workers, embroiderers, mothers–my work explores this tradition, couching it in the uncomfortable, or the unsafe, or the frustrating.”

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“Reliquary #2: Just Keep It” (32.5″ x 32.5″) Wool, silk, cotton voile & velvet, vintage linens & drapery, hair, found objects. Machine pieced, hand embroidered & quilted, 2015

“I’m inspired by textiles with the heft and history of the domestic–items so lovingly made that they’ve become precious, burdensome to store, impossible to use.”

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“Girl Story #3″ (26″ x 26” Vintage domestic linens, cotton velvet, wool, found objects. Machine pieced, hand embroidered, hand quilted, 2015

“I’m inspired by the time it takes to work by hand, the drudgery of repetition. The work takes hours, the meaning shifts, deepens, but never loses its initial impulse.”

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Girl Story #3 Detail

“Generations of sewing women said, “Mend it, save it for your children…the fabric is still good.”

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“Reliquary #3: I Will Catch You” (25.75″ x 25.75″) Vintage domestic linens, silk organza, wool, abandoned embroideries & quilts, found object. Machine pieced, hand embroidered & quilted, 2015.

“In my reverence I do the unthinkable: I cut it apart. Then I slowly piece myself into it.”

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Reliquary #3: I will Catch for You Detail

If you can’t make it to Homer, Alaska to see the show this month, you are still in luck.

Bunnel Street Arts Center featuring Amy Meissner's WorkReliquary will show again in the ConocoPhillips Gallery in Grant Hall at APU in February 2016. If you would like to know more about Amy’s work and her process, please visit her website and blog.

This entry was published on June 26, 2015 at 3:48 PM. It’s filed under Art in Place and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Reliquary by Amy Meissner

  1. Carole Rothstein on said:

    I sure can identify with this wonderful artist and friend. She reminds me of Susan Lenz, installation and fiber artist here in Columbia. Hope you get to meet her (and me) some day. Fiber friends are the best. Caro

    Like

    • Carole- I was thinking the same thing.Susan just gave a TED talk I think called precious about working with other people’s precious materials. I was thinking I needed to share that information with Amy.Iknow it is great to have friends who comopletely understand your obsession, becase it is their obsession too!

      Like

  2. pmgarrett2 on said:

    i really enjoyed this post. see u soon. love, gma patt

    Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2015 23:48:28 +0000 To: pmgarrett@hotmail.com

    Like

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