My family and I clean remote beaches every summer in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Between ghost nets and plastic bottles, we find bleached seal bones and dead birds, unidentifiable vertebrae. We also fill pockets with perfect stones, embrace quiet and solitude. As beautiful as this northern landscape is, the beach is also a place where we maneuver around our growing frustration with a society that chooses to ignore its own actions, this crisis of consumption and discard. One frustration alone is easily tidied and dismissed. Three you can contain, even hold. More than this becomes something more sinister, an accretion, threatening to quietly multiply in my children’s and their children’s lifetimes. To live in a northern climate is to confront adversity in environment, but what we thought we knew so well is shifting. A beach strewn in plastic is normal. One day snow will have become a myth.
I approach needlework with traditional skills and time, questioning value, abandonment, longevity and expectations of beauty. I focus on literal, physical and emotional work — primarily of women, with themes of motherhood often in the forefront. My raw materials include abandoned cloth sourced from discarded piles of unwanted domestic linens, made by unknown hands for unknown homes. When combined with objects from the natural world, the resulting narrative does more to reveal an emotional truth about a life than any partial or assumed history. Completing a story feels human, crafting by hand even more so. Adaptation is human, so is ignorance, so is worry, but so is care.