Kathryn Clark's visual art appears in Issue No. 55: Under Pressure.
IN 2007, I began to notice foreclosures at a much higher rate than normal. A lack of maps at a neighborhood level made the foreclosure crisis easy to ignore. Articles would show only statistics and text. I wanted to move beyond statistics and show the average person how significant the foreclosure crisis was. I realized a quilt would be an ironic solution. Quilts are an approachable medium and would allow me to show the intimacy of the crisis. Quilts act as a functional memory, an historical record of difficult times. It is during times of hardship that people have traditionally made quilts, often resorting to scraps of cloth when so poor they could not afford to waste a single thread of fabric.
For the past decade, I have been making art about geopolitical narratives using the traditional medium of textiles. Presenting these subjects through the use of the aesthetically pleasing fabric offers a viewer a more approachable relationship with narratives that we often choose to conveniently ignore. What at first seems beautiful, upon further investigation reveals a darker tale. The medium of textiles is a familiar one to me. My mother was a textile artist, and growing up in the Deep South, quilts were commonly used as storytelling tools. Each of my series involves copious research into maps, government data, and journalism. This stems from compiling and presenting data in map form as an urban planner but also from my passion for research and infographics. There are no arbitrary designs in my work, every stitch and line relates back to my research.
Showing the foreclosures as holes cut into the quilt touches on the harsh loss of security and comfort of a home, an aspect statistics can’t relay to a reader. The neighborhoods shown are not an anomaly; they are a recurring pattern seen from coast to coast, urban to suburban neighborhoods across the United States. The problem has not been solved; it is still occurring, just changing shape, and will soon come back to haunt us again. These quilts are a reminder to us all.
Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt, 2011. Hand-stitched textile. 60 inches x 25 inches. Private Collection.
Chicago Foreclosure Quilt, 2013. Hand-stitched textile. 42 inches x 31 inches. Collection of the Bank of Kaukauna, Kaukana, WI.
Kathryn Clark is a conceptual textile artist who lives in Sonoma, CA. She grew up in the Deep South but a move to San Francisco in the nineties deeply influenced her work and led her to focus on global societal issues in her artwork. She has exhibited widely across the U.S. and has been featured in several publications including Quilts and Human Rights and Craft for the Modern World. The Washington, DC Foreclosure Quilt is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection. www.kathrynclark.com
View and read the other art, stories, and poems from Ruminate's Issue 55: Under Pressure.
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