Salvaged – Alicia Hunt


Alicia Hunt

August 15 – September 9, 2013

Opening reception: Thursday August 15th , 7 – 9 pm
Closing reception: September 9th, 8-9 pm

Through interaction with natural and salvaged materials, I explore concepts of community and place. I am interested in the enormity of presence and stories that are within garments and fabric, as well as materials from the earth.

My work begins with the salvaging of fabric and other materials. I gather old pieces of fabric, cast off clothing, and other components like ashes, and partially used spools of thread. This gleaning is part of the early process. I then interact with these gathered materials through applying beeswax, ashes, ink, and colour; a phase of tearing, reassembling, and stitching follows.

Exploring place is significant to these pieces and informs the already topographical quality of my work. I have gathered rubbings in the Algoma region and left mid-process fabric outside through sun and rain, which imprints an element of the history, narrative, and presence that is within the earth onto the fabric.  The times that I feel nearest to the earth consist of more than meeting a place strictly through my vision, but greatly through the tactility, sound, and presence within a place. There is a great oneness in the concepts of place and being.

There is tactility and malleability to both beeswax and hand stitching. Beeswax is a raw, alive substance, and has long been a sign of healing. The purpose of beeswax in the hive is to create a shelter for un-hatched eggs and for food. This beeswax has nurtured life and gives its own narrative of place to the work. The use of beeswax in encaustic painting is an ancient technique used to create early religious icons. The prominence of repeated mark, I often explore through hand stitching, is a common ground between the sculpture of the Canadian Shield, icons, and maps, each of which have been influential to this body of work.

Many of the pieces in this body of work have a garment, or figure-like presence and are constructed piece by piece. The stitching together of different pieces of fabric echoes the making of clothing, or shelter: threads bind, hold, unite. Pieces that were broken or incomplete on their own are made stronger, are perhaps made more whole through their relationship with the other pieces. They are a prayer.

The twine by which the fabric is held up in these installations is significant – visual lines of connection are built as they cross one another, and speak of community. The white crochet further tells of these relationships as well as relates to the soothing repetitive quality of the craft. The strings encourage furthering these now permeable boundaries of the piece. It is not just about the piece, but about the place, the installation as a whole, one with the space.

These salvaged, often torn pieces of fabric, when sewn together, can speak of how we construct our lives, our own cultural identities, by what we see around us and by our own histories. These fabric works that appear to breath in the air movement, can appear vulnerable and near to falling apart, but in reality are quite sturdy. In this, there are elements of unity and strength. I am interested in the way that fragments, reassembled and sewn, create a new narrative of community, place, and reconciliation.