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18 August 2011

Stitches Through Time

by Scott Loveall

Dancing Iris2Sue Davis is a fascinating artist to me. She has a mind that must see the way a handyman sees a task he has never attempted and comes up with a new and unique way of solving the problem or fixing a stubborn door. I first walked in to Sue's Ft. Wayne, Indiana gallery in 1990. The jaw in my mind's eye dropped. I'm sure my posture changed and mouth turned into a perfect 'O'. My mind had switched out of conscious mode. I was on autopilot. My feet tried to move without me and my eyes wanted to be everywhere at once.

Who runs a matte through a sewing machine and stitches it with metallic thread?

Who embeds circles and rectangles of fired clay tiles into windows of five layered cut out mattes?

Who adds dye to epoxies and creates dew-like droplets of pastels around bands of gold leaf foil that are etched by hand with delicate designs?

Who puts all that in the same piece?

With LACE?

Is this old hat today? These were not just paintings or sculptures, this was collaborative engineering. Little tribes of art, different species brought to a common moment to sing and cohabit together. It was everywhere, one more intriguing and creative than the next. I wanted it all. In the end I could never have decided on just one piece. I could walk out, get away, rush to my car and not look back or spend money I did not have. After all I had a dog on the way. I bought three. I named two of them.

MesoOne reminded me immediately and strongly of a high aerial view of two rivers. It had to be 'Mesopotamia' - the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq. Ridges on tiles weaved in gold paint. A stark desert white terrain dotted with settlements of epoxy. No, I had left the drugs at home.

The other was 'Dolphin Moon'. A wonderfully simple black clay disc, stippled with strands of ivory and curls of black clay for grasses or sea oats, and a smaller full moon. The three matte layers are cut out to resemble dolphin shapes (to me) and waves, while textured with shapes of lace. Again the foreground matte is stitched with multicolor metallic thread and dotted with little gleaming jewels of epoxy.

It seems to me that these pieces, having evoked scenes and names is in itself a tribute to this work. She would not name them, we would.

It has been 20 years and I'm sure Sue has moved on and evolved as all artists do. She may look back at this work and just shake her head and smile at how she has grown. She may not relate to this creative space at all anymore. Her trusty industrial Singer may be sold or sitting bobbin-less and neglected in a corner closet of her studio, it's needles dull and worn. Her kiln may be firing more exotic templates for landscapes quite alien to these.

I am not an artist, I am a voyeur looking in at the wonder and endless imagination of artists in many mediums of expression. To you, the artist if you are, some of my words here may seem amusing to you. You see these works with a different eye, appreciating, critiquing the ideas, nodding, making mental post it notes, and moving on. To me, the simple purveyor, and the one who puts them on my wall, they are small miracles. Just as nuggets of cinema, poetry, or melody must be to those who could not begin to create such things.



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