The major themes of my work center around autobiographical experiences, especially those of spending a great deal of time as a young girl being examined by authoritarian figures from the masculinely dominated fields of science and medicine. In my work, sampler becomes specimen, taking the place of the insect pinned in the case or the girl alone on the exam table. Through this I seek to describe the sensation of being exposed and vulnerable, at the mercy of prying tools of inspection, unable to conceal even the most private things. The girl becomes specimen, and thus object, to be collected and displayed.
The physical act of working the embroidery is key to my practice. The meditative nature of the stitching gives me time to contemplate my own thoughts about the work, retelling myself the stories I’ve drawn it from again and again. By putting these products of my self-examination on display, my silent hours of stitching give voice to the girl/woman previously silenced by masculine authority.
These pieces use antiquated methods of production characterized by slow, exacting work done by hand, which requires careful planning and surgical precision. The untitled specimen brooches were the starting point of using these techniques to explore personal feelings of being objectified and exposed on display, like their organic counterparts in entomological collections. In sampler:specimen, the adolescent girl is laid out for examination, as layer after layer of her is stripped away to reveal what lies beneath. Under prying eyes she is left exposed and helpless, dehumanized until she is merely a vessel for her organs. The result is these small specimens of linen and cotton, carefully prepared and mounted for display and examination.