I recently created a mixed media piece on the co-optation of mutual aid for Carnegie Mellon’s Center for the Arts in Society. The materials used, particularly the use of stitching into a photograph of my arm, are a direct reference to Agnes Richter – a 19th century seamstress who was confined to a psychiatric ward in Germany for the majority of her life. While confined, she stitched narratives into every inch of the inside of her institutional uniform (women were denied pen and paper but allowed “feminine crafts” such as stitching). Her work was “discovered” after her death by Hans Prinzhorn, a psychiatrist who had an interest in collecting “outsider art” by psychiatric patients (a co-optation). Cross-stitching words into my paper arm on canvas is a direct reference to Agnes’s jacket and my interpretations of it as a subversive act.
Check out my full project here, and read the curator’s statement here.