thread, Carhartt clothing made from Realtree camo
I painstakingly hand embroider camouflage-like patterns over Carhartt hats and jackets made from Realtree camouflage fabric. Each piece takes months to complete. This project captures my conflicting feelings about currently living and growing up in rural Michigan. It tells the story of feeling caught between my life as an academic in Ann Arbor and living in an 1800s farmhouse in Howell, a rural place with a notorious history. Where I work, guns are considered shocking and puzzling. By contrast in the rural community where I live, less than 40 minutes away from where I work, the sounds of deer hunting are a regular part of the soundscape. I fit in both places but am not completely at home in either. This project represents a collision of cultures: hunting culture, military culture, craft culture, art culture, and the tensions caused by our political climate. Both a work of art and something I actually wear, the pieces incorporate many contradictions. Domestic embroidery, taught to me by my Polish grandmother vs. industrially made clothing. Military camouflage vs. civilian hunting. Hunting camo is meant to render a person invisible to people and animals, but it also has become a fashion statement to show off one’s masculinity and dominance over nature. I subvert hunting camo by embroidering my own camo onto it, interrupting its traditional function. What was once invisible becomes overtly visible. I am transforming the camo back into a textile and am drawing attention to its decorative qualities and history. By wearing my altered camo, I no longer blend into the local landscape, either in the forest or culturally where I live and work.