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.
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?
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.
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.
I suppose that is part of why I am so drawn to her work.
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.
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.”
“Slipping fast away, like childhood, like domesticity, like safety beneath the weight of something handmade.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Generations of sewing women said, “Mend it, save it for your children…the fabric is still good.”
“In my reverence I do the unthinkable: I cut it apart. Then I slowly piece myself into it.”
If you can’t make it to Homer, Alaska to see the show this month, you are still in luck.
Reliquary 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.