For this series I am deconstructing colonial braided rugs to uncover the voices they carry and the imprint time has left. My project transforms these humble symbols of home and women’s labor into objects that suggest their source material. Braided rugs were made from threadbare wool blankets, coats and other furnishings to provide comfort underfoot and embellishment in places often trod. They embody resourcefulness and thrift. 


I unbraid each rug, and then press and sew the strips into cloth. The unbraiding reveals a myriad hidden patterns and exuberant hues, along with traces of human wear. Lines of dotted holes indicate years of use; leopard-like spots of dirt pressed into the exposed part of the cloth (especially visible in the lighter hued fabrics) trace human movement and time. The process is something like an excavation, uncovering what the rugs hide in between their braids. I keep part of the original rug attached to the object, to suggest the cyclical nature and shifting boundaries of the objects. 


Wearing: Suit
2020
unbraided worn rug sewn into a suit, rug remnant
medium

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: Suit, detail
2020
unbraided worn rug sewn into a suit, rug remnant
medium

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: Coat
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a coat, rug remnant
36 x 47 x 3"

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

detail of Wearing: Coat
2019
unbraided worn rug, pressed, pieced and sewn into fabric

The dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid, while the holes reveal the passage of footprints over time.

Installation view of Wearing, at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts
2019

I was an artist in residence at VCCA from November to December, 2019

Wearing: Blanket and Slippers
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a blanket and slippers, rug remnant
80 x 90 x 36"

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: detail of Slippers
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a blanket and slippers, rug remnant
80 x 90 x 36"

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: Blanket Detail
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a blanket, rug remnant
80 x 90 x 36"

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: Blanket Detail
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a blanket, rug remnant
80 x 90 x 36"

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing, Night Shirt
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a night shirt, rug remnant, ironing board
40 x 42 x 38"

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing, Night Shirt, detail of back
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a night shirt, rug remnant, ironing board
A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.
Wearing: Jacket
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a coat, rug remnant
30 x 34 plus rug remnant

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: Jacket detail
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a coat, rug remnant

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: detail of Curtains for VCCA
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into curtains, rug remnant
78 x 48 x 22 inches

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: detail of Curtains for VCCA
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into curtains, rug remnant
78 x 48 x 22 inches

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing: Shirt
2019
unbraided worn rug sewn into a shirt, rug remnant
30 x 36 x 2 inches

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Detail of fabric made from unbraided rug, pieced together
2019
unbraided worn rug, pressed, pieced and sewn into fabric

An worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric & then made into an article of clothing that may have been cut up for the rug. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid.

Wearing, unbraided braided rug
2019
unbraided worn rug, pressed, pieced and sewn into fabric

A worn braided rug was unbraided, pressed, pieced together into fabric. The holes are from the passage of footprints over time, the dirt spots reveal the unhidden surface of the braid. Much of the fabric was never stepped on, due to the braiding process, so some really surprising patterns and vivid colors emerge!

Wearing: Stockings
2019
unbraided worn rug, pressed, pieced and sewn into fabric
40 x 27 x 1 inches

This rug was mostly synthetic fabrics, so I felt stockings could have been shredded to make it.

Studio Visit at the Mabel Residency at the Norman Bird Sanctuary, heaven on earth!
2019

Thank you Lois Harada for this photo ;-)