The Myriad Interpretations of Language

A Collaborative Embroidery/Quilt Project

Lego Sam gathers up all of her orange embroidery suppliesWatch this space for the 2024 version of this project!

The 2022 Myriad Interpretations of Language project is now closed!

I have always thought that art can be considered a language of communication. Sometimes, when words and rhetoric get lost in the noise, art can cut through it by illustrating the concepts in different ways.

As a person who has had a life-long fascination with how words and language function, I’ve been looking for a way to illustrate the idea that, while we all might hear the same words, what we make of them is often quite different. You only have to listen to opposing political views to see how a phrase can be stretched like taffy to encompass fully contradictory meanings depending on who’s listening. And yet, it’s what we have, so we keep trying.

So, putting polarizing rhetoric aside, how could the interpretation of language be illustrated?

Enter embroidery.

Embroidery has been a skill used to measure the worth of women over the past couple of centuries. Rozsika Parker, in her book “The Subversive Stitch,” writes: “The art of embroidery has been the means of educating women into the feminine ideal, and of proving that they have attained it, but it has also provided a weapon of resistance to the constraints of femininity.”

While I respect the tradition of the stitch, I love the idea of using it to question the very traditions it’s founded on. And I do like a bit of subversion in my art!

Thus this collaborative project… I invite you to stitch a block, following some very simple instructions. The project is to interpret the instructions the way YOU think fit; there is no right or wrong. Once I put the collective collaboration together into one piece of art, my hope is that it will illustrate the concept: that there are myriad ways to interpret the same language.

The 2022 version of the quilt showed at QuiltCon 2023 in Atlanta GA! The instructions were to choose a solid colored fabric, stitch a line, and stitch another that crossed it, and finish it with a signature. And this is the beautiful result:

I’ll announce the second project in early summer 2024.