Representation (the literal garment) and abstraction (the stained and embroidered forms) are integrated in each piece created by Erin Endicott. The red thread contrasts with two other colors, off white and brown, which are themselves the result of the support—an antique garment—and the applied walnut ink stain. The private nature of these clothes—most are undergarments and other kinds of intimate female apparel such as handkerchiefs—implies personal narratives. Children’s garments make up a substantial component. They have a sense of history—they hold the stories and secrets of the past. Endicott explains that those clothes incorporated into her work have some personal association, either through her own family or that of another person with whom she connects quite directly. She views her works as sutras, describing them this way: “To stitch; a thread or line that holds things together” – this is the literal translation of the ancient Sanskrit word ‘sutra.’ The Healing Sutras grew out of years of work examining psychological wounds (mainly my own), their origins and how they insinuate themselves into our lives.” Endicott‘s iconography alludes to the complexities of women’s lives. The reality of the found support—the historical garment—coupled with the abstract, embroidered images presents a dynamic tension that reinforces the dialogue about women as biological creatures. Despite the fact that Endicott designs the subjects and forms to be self-referential, there is no way to ignore other more outward meanings. The representation of the brown-stained fabrics and blood red stitching is tied to the subject of the body on a number of levels including to the female body, but also to the body of the martyr who might achieve transcendence through suffering. The walnut stains are the color of dried blood. There is a meditative quality to the work; hours upon hours of repetition are tangible and visible in the process of embroidering, and like counting a rosary or chanting a mantra, the act of making becomes a spiritual and healing practice.
-J. Susan Isaacs, PhD
Curator of Special Projects