In my old diaries, I found several disturbing self-portraits as I saw myself as a teen. Many of these drawings exaggerated facets of my body that I detested, and many of my writings included neverending lists of improvements I needed to make to myself before I felt good enough. With these stitched selfies, I remediate this by creating many iterations, some aspirational, some more realistic, using the reparative gesture of embroidery.
“I’m neurotic. I become really anxious about many things, but especially social situations. I don’t like to smile when people walk by. I think up excuses not to go to parties. I really hate ordering sandwiches because I have to answer too many condiment-related questions. Anxiety is a part of my life. At some point, I realized that the most helpful therapy was the act of sharing.”
Anxiety was the grad piece for my BFA and consisted of several small embroidered works.
I’ll Cry If I Want To was the thesis exhibition for my MFA, and took place in June of 2014, in the collection wing of University of Manitoba’s School of Art Gallery. The exhibition consisted of an installation of found/collected objects, embroidered “selfies”, diary excerpts, drawings, a collection of extremely personal narrative video works, other things made especially for the show sprinkled here and there, and finally, a personal zine intended to replace the didactic panel and create a parallel text that the viewer could take home with them and share.
I consider the work a cathartic farewell to girlhood, or at least, the idea of the line between girlhood and adulthood. As a kid, I had all these expectations for what adulthood would be like, and I find myself still clinging to them even now. Besides others’ expectations, for example, I never thought I would have kids, and I never will; I did think I would be confident, assertive, much taller, and be able to give the air that I knew what I was doing. I would be a social butterfly, and go to all kinds of parties. Instead, I’m still thinking about childhood bullies and events, for instance, slamming my thumb in the car door and getting to miss piano lessons, or that boy in school hollowing out a battery with my scissors. So while this is probably all related to anxiety, I hope that it brings to mind the larger notion of what it means to be an adult, especially an adult woman, and the flawed nature of that expectation.
Thank you to Nelson Milum for your technical support.