The Ledger, ©Iskra Johnson
The year: no summary statements can do it justice. Instead, I offer an image, just one: “Ledger.” It began as an exploration of the Mourning Theorems of early American folk art. There was a willow tree. There was the idea of velvet, of fruit baskets arranged and lovingly drawn in another light, (perhaps the pale lyric light of spring,) and of women in “drawing rooms”: women young, old, perilously middle-aged, sometimes barren, but women regardless, perhaps surrounded by thirteen children, or perhaps feeding biscuits to one tottering and garrulous German shepherd in some log cabin shack on the great plains; women reaching for the sewing basket on New Years Eve as muskets went off on the horizon and the men stormed around drunk.
For years I had a ritual of sewing on New years Eve. I had an actual woven reed basket, knee-high, and in it was a stack of clothes going back, and back . . . to the first threadbare jeans and the first embroidered patch on a knee in denim in the 8th grade. (I think I stitched a rainbow when I was 13, remember those?) At the bottom of the basket was a clown my mother made of socks and Mid-Century Modern fabrics, split down the middle between black and white and color, a harlequin icon of her day, when a housewife had a choice of valium and the vacuum cleaner or dancing to Chubby Checkers in the afternoon and writing letters to the editor. I never could figure out the sock part. [Read more…]