Usually, my 2007 embroidered piece, Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion is on display in its semi-permanent home at the Woods Hole Library. But this fall, it’s been is on view at the Cahoon Museum in Cotuit MA, as part of my exhibit, “Bedtime Stitches” through Dec. 22, 2020.
It’s been a while since Self Portrait was featured in my very first blog post in 2009, so I thought I’d revisit it today.
An old acquaintance wrote to tell me that three generations of her family enjoyed seeing my work at the Cahoon Museum. She especially wanted me to know that her 4 year old granddaughter was so taken with my self portrait that they couldn’t tear her away. For little Emma, seeing the progression of dolls opened up the concept of growing up, which led to her asking lots of questions. I love hearing accounts like this, because it reaffirms my intention to make art for all ages, whether it’s book illustration or stand alone embroidered pieces like this one.
An 18″ x 20″ poster of the Self Portrait is available in my shop here.
This piece seems to resonate with a lot of people whose lives parallel the same time period. I can’t tell you how many women remark that they had an alpaca poncho, too! As well as clothing memories, we all have a personal soundtrack that goes with different times in our lives. This video is a nostalgic tour through fashion and music that my husband Rob and I put together. At the end, there’s a list of the music.
I made the piece for a self-portrait themed invitational exhibition in 2007. It shows a spiral of dolls, one for each year, starting with my birth date in the center. Each figure is dressed in an outfit I would have worn that year, taken from memories, family photos or imagination. The figures range from 1 in. to 3 1/2 in. and are variations of the wee folk and fairy dolls in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.
Since I made many of my own clothes, I remember the fabrics and clothing styles. They are recreated here with smaller scale fabric and embroidered wool felt. My husband, Rob, appears the year we were married and my sons, Peter and Ian, are included through the years when they were little and physically connected to me. The tatting around the outside of the circle was made over 100 years ago by my late grandmother, Louise Salley Hartwell. The wool felt spiral in color gradation is mounted on upholstery fabric, which I embellished with multicolored french knots.
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