Paper Violets, Vellum Prose

For this project, I worked with my frequent collaborator, Ames Hawkins, a creative-critical scholar and fellow professor at Columbia College Chicago. Ames describes the project as follows: "Conceived of as a radical eulogy, "Paper Violets, Vellum Prose" both recalls and recreates the stark realities of my father’s hospice death. First appearing as an installation in Word 6, the multimedia installation “Paper Violets, Vellum Prose” is a call to re-embrace the death experience from which twentieth century culture has distanced us.” My contributions to this multi-component art piece consisted of design refinement and creation of a wallpaper design, design for a window installation, and design guidance for needlepoint quilt.

During an earlier iteration of the project a few years ago, fellow artist Joan Giroux collaborated with Ames to design the element of flower petals constructed from Ames’ writing. In 2017, Ames approached me to build on this element to create a pattern design that was reminiscent of a 1980s Waverly or Laura Ashley wallpaper. I used other elements of the flowers and plants to create a layered, period-specific yet contemporary aesthetic.  

Ames also planned to needlepoint a cover for a cushion to be placed on a pew she retrieved from her childhood church. Using photographs of the violets themselves, I created abstracted patterns to serve as guidelines for Ames to needlepoint. As the project developed, Ames decided to create multiple flower needlepoint pieces and quilt them together, and I helped design the pattern for the quilt cushion cover.

Finally, there is a wall hanging of an old window that features Ames’ writing on one side and images of the violets on the other. I designed the typography for the writing and constructed the window panels so they would appear as true mirror images that the viewer can walk around.

The installation images of the piece are from the Ill At Ease exhibition at SUNY-Buffalo, Spring 2017, curated by Conor Moynihan.