One memory I have of my grandmother is of she and I in her dining room, sewing patterns spread out over fabric, pinking shears in hand, as she cut out the pieces to yet another new dress for me. The crunch of that brown tissue paper is now always associated with those times together. Austin artist John Westmark incorporates paper sewing patterns into his work, reinterpreting them as he explores feminist narratives, mythical figures, and the segregation of stereotypes.
Not only does the artist incorporate the patterns into his work as a means of literal and visual texture, the patterns and their associations are the catalyst behind the explorations of themes in each series. For instance, in his Folklore series ( including Corona below ), Westmark references the traditions of story telling, incorporating the instructional verbiage of the patterns themselves. While in his Double Bind series ( including She-Crab below ), he reinterprets these instruments of traditionally feminine work into images of female mythical heroes and warriors. Adding an additional level of interest, he adds to the patterns custom text from contemporary feminist writings– creating work not just to be seen but to be experienced.
For his Flight series, Westmark continues the visual conversation between the feminine and masculine by creating a bridge between the typically female sewing patterns and the mechanical drawings of aircraft, usually a more masculine endeavor. Each patterns upon which to build and construct, looking very similar upon first glance– it is only when we examine more closely and determine their origin that we assign a stereotype to each.
To see more of the phenomenal work of John Westermark, please visit his website. His work can be seen at Stark + Kent, a contemporary art gallery in Palm Springs, where I first spotted these extraordinary works, or at Gilman Contermporary in Sun Valley, ID, where his solo exhibition, Into the Fold, is showing until January 20, 2013.