New York City, NY
Kenyon Class of ’14, Studio Art major
Clothes strewn on the floor and bed, dresser drawers left open: the owner of this bedroom has had some trouble deciding what to wear. Getting dressed is no simple task. It requires us to think about how we want to present ourselves to the world, as what we wear is frequently construed to be a visual representation of who we are.
Embroidery allows me to work directly with the emotions which I, and many women, face when getting dressed each morning. Through this medium, I juxtapose a traditionally feminine practice with a contemporary one, a disordered way of thinking about eating and our bodies which I see both in myself and those around me. Using just a needle and thread, I tangibly tie my ideas and thoughts into the objects which I confront everyday: the clothes that I choose to wear, or not to wear, the notebook with which I obsessively try to control my life, and the sheets in which I toss and turn each night lying awake consumed by thoughts.
In this bedroom, echoes of conversations and reflections that normally remain quiet are brought out into the open. Every internal thought which has passed through my head has been inseparably woven into the external, stitched into the bedding, clothes, and belongings of this room; they have even found their way into the carpet and wallpaper. With this, I explore the tension between our internal and external selves, what we think versus what we choose to say and reveal to the world. How loud does a thought need to be before it must be heard?
I find it incredibly powerful, though often terrifying, to invite people into my life. Artist Tracey Emin once said, “I work with what I know. But it goes beyond that. I start with myself but end up with the universe.” My art speaks about my own experiences so that it will be honest, and relate to others in a broader conversation, reminding both my viewer and myself that we are not alone. In But Secretly We’re Freaking Out, as I compulsively embroidered every letter of my running internal dialogue, the process began to mirror my concept: what it means to truly obsess over something. Though the subject of the text may be specific to myself, I believe that my viewers will be able to relate to these feelings of obsession and constant rumination.
— Sophie Yolowitz , ‘14