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Artist Statement-Deb Lawrence

I am a US artist raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, living and working outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I reinvent discarded shards of well-loved textiles in novel, intimate ways, instilling them with a veritable soul. My work is comprised of creased, cutout, layered, painted and stitched fragments of antique textiles, previously used as nightshirts, bed linens and mattress covers. I’m elevating the lowly security blanket, building entirely new soulful creations out of cherished fragments from the past. Whether hanging suspended from a clothesline revealing their undersides, or mounted on deep profile stretchers, my layered textile paintings engage in fresh, innovative ways.

Hand woven linen textiles are creased and coated with layers of paint, creating striking dimensionality. Others are layered with leftover cutouts from the studio floor, brushed with acrylic paint and marble dust, and then reassembled into novel compositions like a textile jigsaw puzzle.

Like a well worn, well loved security blanket, my work deals with women’s internal struggle to feel comfortable in our own skin and external struggle to be heard and valued in contemporary society. Coarse threads, hand stitched seams, and occasional repairs highlight vestiges of the female hand and engender a sense of strength, authenticity and beauty, honoring our “blemishes.” Titles serve as wry “self-help” provocations to get comfortable in our own skin and cope with contemporary life.

My work pulls from Pediatrician/Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott’s early theoretical writings on transitional objects. I aim to have a distinctive voice in the conversation about elevating the role of women and handcrafted objects to high art in the tradition of Judy Chicago, Rosemarie Trockel, the women of Gees Bend, and others whose work is inspired by countless “unknown women” who have painstakingly handcrafted master works of art with little or no recognition or acclaim.