THE SPACE BETWEEN:
A Solo Exhibition of work by Jeanne Bieri
May 23-July 7, 2018
Four years ago, I stood before a Muslim Clerical Garment at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. I had been using WWII Army blankets and Army suture cotton (dated 1953) for over 20 years. My practice is hand-stitched and meditative, I love to mend the worn blankets. The Muslim chain stitch on the garment’s surface was another way to connect the Army Blankets and quilts. In the museum’s statement, every stitch was described as a meditation, a prayer. Row after row of peaceful practice.
My art practice begins with the simple act of hand sewn mending, tedious and soothing, often lonely, a simple act to fix the fiber frayed by human use. Assembled piece by piece, the work grows. Hand work adds to the contemplation of the art making process and the careful organizing of the parts. Once complete I am often surprised at the response viewers have. Drawn in by the familiarity of an Army blanket and quilt, sometimes touching the piece, their experiences are relayed. By using the chain stitch, I had another way to mend, to ponder and to relate.
The dual nature of the unending chain stitch as line and connector paired nicely with the duality of the materials in my artwork: The Army blankets for warmth and protection, for survival in the awfulness of wartime and the quilt. The chain stitch floated over the de-contextualized materials. The stitch was a connector, a way to make a whole. Another point for communication.