Forget-me-not

Like much of my work, Forget-me-not is about memory, story, and devotion. In part, it stems from my disinclination toward the abstraction of war by the modern media. Television, in particular, does not lend itself to considering individuals: we are taught to refer to our servicemen and women as “troops,” which is a collective term. It wasn’t enough for me. As a mother, I wanted to know more about the sons and daughters from my community who were sacrificing themselves in our name: where they lived, what they liked to do, what kind of people they were. Making these portraits helped me to do that: slowly, with research, consideration, and – within the communities of my studio and sewing circles – discussion.

I am a Seneca woman, a member of a matrilineal society. The Iroquois concept of “mother” is broad, extending from one’s mother through a long line of women: ak’sote (grandmothers), ak’sote kowah (great-grandmothers), aunties, sisters, Sky Woman, mentors, friends, leaders. So it was with this view of motherhood in mind – and its dense web of connections extending across generations – that I asked the men I know to suggest women who were significant to them to include in this work. Some of these women were mothers in the physical sense; others gave to our culture in other ways.

The result, I hope, is conversation and communion among individuals: those hung from the web of the circle and those, like you, within it. It is a conversation that I intend to expand. Information was gleaned from public sources; there will be errors, and I welcome correction. I also invite you to contribute to these stories to further illuminate the individuality of these men and women.

I will allow myself some politics in that I wish Forget-me-not was finished. But I fear I will be adding men and women to its web for some time.

Other resources

An interpretive document prepared for the exhibition may be downloaded here (5.9Mb PDF); a complete collection of cameo portraits may be found at our Flickr site.

Forget-me-not: Mothers & Sons (Entry)
2008
Circle: 20' diameter, 10' tall.
Reclaimed wool blankets, satin bindings, thread, structural steel.

Forget-me-not: Mothers & Sons (Exterior)
2008
Circle: 20' diameter, 10' tall.
Reclaimed wool blankets, satin bindings, thread, structural steel.

Forget-me-not: Blossom (Detail)
2008
Dimensions variable.
Reclaimed wool blankets thread, columnar basalt

View of ladder and blossom cluster set in the skylight of the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Sculpture Court at the Portland Art Museum.

Forget-me-not
2008
Installation view
Reclaimed wool blankets, satin bindings, thread, columnar basalt

Shown: Forget-me-not: Blossom (foreground); Forget-me-not: Mothers & Sons; Compass (back right).

Forget-me-not: Mothers & Sons (Detail)
2008
Circle: 20' diameter, 10' tall.
Wool blankets, satin bindings, thread; structural steel.

Photograph by Tom Nutt.

Forget-me-not: Mothers & Sons (Detail)
2008
Circle: 20' diameter, 10' tall.
Wool blankets, satin bindings, thread; structural steel.

Partial installation view. Photograph by Tom Nutt.