Sembrando Amores, 2018

 
 
Photo by Alicia Marván

Photo by Alicia Marván

 
 
 

During the spring of 2018, in residency at the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Michoacán, Mexico, I experimented with an improved pattern for creating fabric “seed pockets” for the next iteration of the Seed Quilt.

Photo by Alicia Marván

Photo by Alicia Marván

However, as I explored the wild meadows and cultivated fields that embraced the hacienda, I became interested in exploring textile projects that would leave the confines of domestic spaces to aid a human body with exploration and interaction, perhaps even integration with the lives of the enveloping flora. To facilitate such integration, I created a garment that would allow seeds to be collected, but not kept, and not confined. Rather, this garment would allow one to collect seeds and to disperse them, as the motion of the wearer’s body worked the pockets back open, dispersing the seeds back into the environment. The next generation of plants arising from this interaction would then be a portrait of the relationship between the individual person and individual plants.

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A fellow residency artist, the UK-based Michèle Lazenby, was working with cyanotype prints of local flora, and the discovery of some cyanotype fabric presented the perfect point of intersection for us to collaborate, allowing for the inclusion of representational as well as performative elements in the garment. Likewise, the perfect form for the garment presented itself in the form of a pair of chaps lent by a champion bull-rider from nearby Maravatío.

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The chaps worn by the bull-riders were exquisite works in their own right, intricately colored and patterned, representative of an exuberant and sexual masculinity, as well as an expression of human domination and control that nevertheless had elements of the spiritual, as each pair bore the images of the Virgin and saints in pockets on the hips.

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The emotional resonance of these garments allowed for the creation of a work that was both earnest and a little tongue-in-cheek in its facilitation of the human wearer’s ability to collaborate with the reproductive lives’ of plants. This work became known as Sembrando Amores, or sowing loves [everywhere one goes], a phrase similar in spirit to the saying in English of “sowing one’s wild oats.”

Photo by Alicia Marván

Photo by Alicia Marván

Michèle was interested in creating prints that would reference both masculine and feminine energies, while I felt drawn to the idea of creating something that referenced the local sartorial vernacular, as I was already interested in the idea of creating something that would be of the place, and would be left there to remain a part of the ongoing life-cycle of the local biome.

Photo by Alicia Marván

Photo by Alicia Marván

I shared my work with the community both via a final art show, and an artist-lead workshop. The show was attended by approximately 30 people from the surrounding areas. The workshop was aimed at about 15 children from the school located adjacent to the residency grounds, ages 6 to 12. I used this occasion as an opportunity to prototype the idea of using paper models as a way of teaching younger age groups how to make their own versions of the more complex fabric shapes I planed to work with.

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Despite my concerns that the activity would be too complex for a group of young children, especially as I tried to give instruction in poor Spanish, this event proved to be successful, as even the younger children were able to complete their pockets—and the older students requested extra materials to create more paper pockets on their own. Additionally, noting Guapamacátaro Director Alicia Marván’s notes that English lessons were of particular interest to the school community, I created a booklet, distributed to each student, that provided a Spanish to English vocabulary lesson related to both my and Michèle Lazenby’s workshops.

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Sembrando Amores was left at Guapamacátaro, as a resource to the community from which it was created, with its ongoing use (or disuse) becoming part of the story that the work creates about the relationships found in that place. While the leaving of the work in Michoacán precluded it from being shown in a meaningful way back in Albuquerque, this experience was invaluable to my current work adapting the garment and quilt projects for a local audience. Based on my explorations at this residency, I am currently finalizing a design for the Seed Quilt, and working with a designer to create a booklet that will be both a description of the previous iterations and goals of the project, as well as a usable pattern that will allow readers to create their own versions of the project. Additionally, I am currently in the process of researching Albuquerque-based issues with native plants to create garments like Sembrando Amores that will mediate interactions between participants here and specific species of plants in our local ecosystem.

A catalog, including more about this work, as well as that of the other residency artists, can be found here.