"Human Nature" Intricate embroideries incorporating found objects by Jill Snyder Wallace. September 6, 2013–November 2, 2013
Artist Statement about the show
Witnessing my father’s death from congestive heart failure in May of 2010 was the beginning of a personal journey with grief. As with most of life’s difficult moments, I turn to art to help me find a path back to center. The slow, contemplative nature of hand embroidery lends itself to cerebral gymnastics. One of the oldest questions in Western philosophy is what causes the distinguishing characteristics of human nature. Exploring ways of visually interpreting questioning, feeling, and acting began to take on a life of its own. I also enjoy playing with word meanings and associations in titles. Although a number of the works are very personal to my own experiences, more universal concerns with health, mortality and spirituality are also explored. This phase of work was rounded out with “Fiber DNA,” a work dealing with immortality and “The Space Between,” a letting go. An affinity for the aesthetics of the Victorian era continues to be relevant in my work. The body images and microscopic forms in these embroideries and assemblages are inspired by anatomical engravings dating from the mid-eighteen hundreds through the early part of the twentieth century. My joy in collecting vintage objects that speak to me and tell stories seems to settle into my work in ways that feel right, whether comfortable or unsettling.
I was a bit perplexed when bugs and bug-like images began appearing more and more frequently. Nature is a huge part of my personal spirituality, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Then, I began thinking about how bugs have unbelievable survival skills, likely able to outlive mankind, sort of like in the old Japanese B movies. And then, I read Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One with my book group and was so taken by the concept of camouflage as a coping skill. A bug has it naturally; a person has to work to develop the survival skills. This opened the door to the challenge of how to visually depict coping skills that people develop in times of crisis to re-establish their identity. Recently, I’ve been thinking more about the cycle of life and, as gardening season began this spring, I realized how apparent this is with plants. The new sprouts bring such anticipation and hope; the blossom’s beauty touches an inner spark of awe; then the deterioration begins. “Panels I – III” are the beginning of an exploration of microscopic plant forms and decay as it relates to the human condition of aging. And so, the journey continues.