Example – evolution of a proposal

(from application)
For the first year of the MFA program I would like to conduct a comparative study of Victorian era embroidery samplers and their contemporary counterpart, women’s magazines. Taking as a starting point the striking similarity in tone, function and aesthetic construction, I will explore the use of these two forms as tools for the indoctrination of femininity. I will create a series of “samplers” based on the titles of articles taken from women’s magazines. The samplers will then form the basis of a group of installations; drawing on and deconstructing the two forms shared structure, which consists of short, directive texts surrounding a central image of an ideal of femininity. Through the work I hope to explore the way meaning emerges from repetitive action (embroidery) and how that meaning evolves or changes in the moment of arrangement (installation). The “samplers” exist as individual objects which, when arranged on a wall, implicate each other in a larger narrative, which is laden with the complex history of embroidery as agent of both control and expression. I plan to inform my art practice through research which draws on the historical evolution of embroidery as a female voice, specifically from Victorian times to the present. I will explore the ways in which embroidery has been re-imagined from samplers through to the use of the medium in the Dada and Russian Constructivism movements and into contemporary art practice. Research into the history of embroidery as a tool for feminine discourse through works such as The Subversive Stitch (Rozsika Parker) and theoretical interpretations of the art/craft divide will form part of the project. The work of Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin and Ghada Amer are the primary references for the project within contemporary art practice as well as the exploration of repetitive action in performance art and dance.

(presented at start of residency for input and refinement)
This proposal is presented at the residency for input and refinement.

Title: Dispositional Hypnoid States

Practical element:
Exploration of scrambling of myths and memory with relation to forms which function
as teachers and tools of indoctrination of femininity.

Take embroidery samplers and unpick them, photograph them and then feed the
image into a computer program which creates embroidery patterns, then embroider
these images (most likely in cross stitch). Many of these embroidery pattern
generator programs use codes to denote stitch style and color, so I will also create
some pencil drawings based on the coded patterns. These drawings will be based on
magazine articles which work under the same premise as the embroidery samplers in
relation to feminine myths. These will accompany the embroidery pieces.

1. The unpicking/destruction of a sampler – relates to the deconstruction of
feminine myths. Explorations of erasure and forgetting.
2. Photographing the result and feeding it into a pattern generating computer
program examines the change in traditions of passing down technical
knowledge of stitches etc. through the exchange between
mother/daughter/sister/friend by replacing this sense of a community of
women with modern technology
3. Reproducing the result in embroidery speaks about the scrambling of myths
and memory and erasure through layering and explores less representational,
more abstract embroidery forms
4. Reproducing the result in pencil drawings of the codes used in these
programs to denote stitch and color, speaks to the codification of feminine
practices and mythologies.

I would destroy the samplers in various ways as according to different ideas of
erasure and memory loss. Some violent, some delicate. I will document the choices I
make in the ʻdestructionʼ of each piece in order to evaluate the way we use selection
to shape memory and story in relation to our own history and that of the collective

Written Element:
Freud claimed that embroidery caused ʻdispositional hypnoid statesʼ, which were
often a pre-cursor to hysterical attacks. I would like to explore how this is related to
the function of embroidery as a teacher and indoctrinating force into femininity,
specifically through the production of embroidery samplers in the 19th century. I will
also explore how contemporary womenʼs magazines function on many of the same
principles as embroidery samplers, using short, directive texts surrounding a central
image of an ideal of femininity and how the consumption of these magazines
produces equivalent dispositional hypnoid states. How has this notion of embroidery
as a hypnotic act been overturned in contemporary art practice in order to explore
violence (personal, emotional political), through the work of artists such as Louise
Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Ghada Amer, Ana de la Cueva etc.

Project results:
The project will result in a series of installations of the embroidery and drawing
works, which will be accompanied by a journal of the process including written and
photographic elements which depict the process of destruction/scrambling.

Research method:
Explore the physical action of embroidery and how it relates to the state of mind of
the maker. How do the physical restrictions imposed on the embroiderer impact on
the meaning of the final piece and the teaching intended by the action and the result?
Interview embroiderers and embroidery teachers about methods and practices,
especially in terms of teaching.

Examine the ways in which women consume magazines, in what environments,
times of day, poses etc. and how these affect the emotional response to the content.
Readings related to craft theory, the history of embroidery, memory and the
examination of contemporary art works which employ embroidery.

Initial bibliography:
Parker, Rozsika. The Subversive Stitch; Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine
London: Womenʼs Press, 1984
Adamson, Glenn. Thinking Through Craft.
Oxford and New York: Berg, 2007
Gibbons, Joan. Contemporary Art and Memory; Images of recollection and
New York, IB Taurus, 2007
Museum of Art and Design. Pricked: Extreme Embroidery; process + materials 2
(Catalogue) 2007
Frédérique Joseph-Lowery. Through the eye of a needle
Artnet magazine, 2010
Natalya Lusty. Surrealism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis
England, Ashgate Publishing, 2007
Research question:
How has the consumption of womenʼs magazines replaced the production of
embroidery samplers as instigator of Freudʼs ʻdispositional hypnoid statesʼ and
teacher and indoctrinator of feminine codes? How is the teaching of femininity tied to
passive/hypnoid states? What is the function of repetition and arrangement in both
cases and what effect do they have on the production/erasure of memory? What is
the relationship of embroidery to violence in contemporary art practice and how has it
subverted the traditional role of embroidery as teacher and keeper of memory?

Intended Audience:
Everyone. Particularly those working with traditional ʻcraftʼ forms.

Short Statement of your current practice:
I explore the relationship between textiles and story, memory, experience and
identity. I am currently most interested in the ways embroidery can be re-imagined,
abstracted and deconstructed.

Formulate entire project in 2-3 meaningful sentences:
Dispositional Hypnoid States will be a comparative study of Victorian era embroidery
samplers and their contemporary counterpart; womenʼs magazines. Taking as a
starting point the striking similarity in tone, function and aesthetic construction, I will
explore these two forms as tools for the indoctrination of femininity and examine the
ways they can be subverted/scrambled and how this affects the production/erasure
of memory.

(submitted at end of residency)
This proposal is approved at the summer residency. If further changes are desired they can be made and re-submitted up until the end of the fall semester. Note any changes after the summer proposal must be approved by advisors.

Title: The Cut

Practical element:
Over the course of the year I plan to explore different methods of cutting, using
various instruments such as the scalpel (surgical), scissors (dress making), butcherʼs
knife (culinary) and possibly the computer (editing). Through the exploration of these
different cutting techniques I hope to reflect on the cut as both physical reality and as
a representation of rupture (physical, psychological, social, historical).

The study of cutting and the attendant works will form the basis of a body of work,
most likely in the medium of textile work and photography.

Written element:
The written element will take as starting point a selection of artists who use the cut in
their work as a means to explore various themes associated with rupture from
psychological, emotional, historical, social and architectural points of view. Through
the selection of works in a range of different media, I hope to explore the huge
potentialities of the cut as artistic metaphor.

Possible artists:
Gordon Matta-Clark – architectural/social rupture,
Louis Bourgeois – emotional rupture
Doris Salcedo – historical/memory rupture
Martin Arnold – psychological rupture and repetition

My research of cutting techniques will also form part of the written element of the

Project Results:
The project will result in photographic and written documentation of the research
component. At this point I am unsure how the exploration of cutting will manifest itself
but I plan to produce a body of work which will potentially form the basis of an
installation or exhibition.

Research method:
I plan to learn the basics of cutting from a variety of sources: a surgeon, a tailor, a
cook and possibly an editor. Ideally, I will engage with each technique separately in
order to fully immerse myself in the method. I plan to journal about the developments
and document the process in photographs.

Readings on the selected artists and their works related to the cut as well as a wide
range of readings on themes related to repetition, rupture and violence will also
inform the work.

Initial Bibliography:

NOTE  beginning academic year 2012-13 full annotated bibliography required
Elisabeth Sussman, Gordon Matta Clark: You are the measure, (New York, Whitney
Museum of American Art, 2007)
Pamela M. Lee, Object to be Destroyed: the work of Gordon Matta Clark,
(Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT press, 2001)
Ann Coxon, Louise Bourgeois, (London, Tate Publishing, 2010)
Joan Gibbons, Contemporary Art and Memory: Images of Recollection and
Remembrance, (New York, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd, 2007)
Carlos Basualdo, Nancy Princenthal, Doris Salcedo & Andreas Huyssen, Doris
Salcedo, (Phaidon, 2000)
Pilar Parcerisas, Viennese Actionism: Gunther Brus, Otto Muehl, Hermann Nitsch,
Rudolf Schwarzkogler, (New York, Actar, 2008)
Paul Virillio, Art and Fear, (London, Continuum International Publishing Group,
Kate Armstrong, Crisis and Repetition: Essays on Art and Culture, (Michigan State
University Press, 2002)
Ad Reinhardt, Art as Art: The Selected Writings of Ad Reinhardt (Documents of
Twentieth Century Art), (University of California Press, 1991)
Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (London, Continuim International
Publishing Group, 2004)
Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, (The International psycho-analytical
press, 1922)
John Cage, Silence, (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961)
Paul Virilio, Sylvére Lotringer, The Accident of Art, ( Semiotext(e); Cambridge,
Mass: Distributed by the MIT Press, 2005)
Soren Kierkegaard, An Essay in Experimental Psychology (Harper & Row, 1964)
Martin, Heidegger, Being and Time (Wiley-Blackwell, 1962)
Research Question:
How is the cut used as a way to explore ideas of rupture in the work of the selected
artists? What themes are addressed through the use of the cut in contemporary art?
What is the relationship of the cut to the body in the works of the selected artists?
Intended Audience:
The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover.
Short Statement of your current practice:
I explore the relationship between textiles and story, memory, experience and

Formulate entire project in 2-3 meaningful sentences:
My work up until now has revolved around the stitching together of things: stories,
fabric, threads and memories. This project will explore the other side of stitching, the
rupture that precedes the stitch, the possibilities inherent in ʻthe cutʼ as artistic tool
and metaphor.