In Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Where Watching God, she describes the altered state of a woman seeking resolution and solace in prayer:
“There is a basin in the mind where words float around a thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought”
Tapiwa Mugabe’s poem, “You are Oceanic”, calls to me at every level of my life and work:
“All she wanted
Was to find a place to stretch her bones
And spread her hair
A place where her legs could walk
Without cutting and bruising
A place unchained
She was born out of the ocean breath.
I reminded her;
“Stop pouring so much of yourself
Into hearts that have no room for themselves
Do not thin yourself
You do not bring the ocean to a river.”
Meredith Re’ Grimsley received her MFA in 2002, and her BFA in 1999, in Fabric Design from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. Her work, including wearable art, installation, performance, two-dimensional and three dimensional forms, has been shown in numerous national and international venues in solo and group exhibitions. She is Professor of Fabric Design at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
From the day we are born to the day we die, we are wrapped in fiber. It has been a second skin: ushered us into this world; kept us warm; made us fashionable; embraced us in fear, love, memory and nostalgia; adorned us in ceremony; ornamented the spaces we occupy; been passed down through families in heirloom and practice; and will usher us out when we pass from this world. Our interaction with textiles is the longest sustained physical relationship we have in our lives. Other than our own body, it is the only material that will always accompany us through life - disposable to sacred. No other medium has that level of intimacy with the human race. Further, fiber art is made from materials which are perceived to be delicate or fragile. Yet, when a fiber art work is made, the materials can withstand incredible physical manipulation, harsh chemical environments, extreme temperatures, it is beaten, stomped, tied, knotted, tangled, pierced with needles and still remains strong or becomes stronger. This is simply awesome. I am moved by the metaphorical capabilities of fiber as an artistic medium and as a conduit to the subconscious.
Acknowledging a sense of loss and gratitude in daily life, my earlier work was layered with prayers, personal journal writings, biblical passages and patterns which reflected my choices, behavior and struggle to determine my identity. Each object made demonstrated moments of meditation and a longing for grace. In pursuit of truth, my soul yearned for a connection. What my work gave me was a deeply painful, yet, liberating perspective of a personal fiction and an abiding faith that I deserve to know the real. In my life, fairy tales constructed as a coping mechanism for trauma, have clouded my vision, my ability to acknowledge and live in reality. I am in eager pursuit of accuracy. To my audience, I whisper about my search with the physical, indelible mark of the stitch. I explore the myths created for and by me in order to unravel pivotal experiences that permanently altered my life and path – to reconstruct my history with fresh eyes and revived spirit. My work discusses the impact of personal history, the endurance of the human spirit and the gift of healing. I also show that blessings abound in my life: grace in times of failure; love in spite of betrayal; forgiveness; childbirth/child rearing; fear and the rise of heroism. All give me faith in the unseen.