I am so thrilled this week – after a couple of months of work I have completed the revisions from my first literature review exam and put them to post.
I need to confess, the deeper I travel into my practice-led research and the more that the pressure of “finishing a doctorate” loom, the more I must remind (console?) myself of the politics that I ultimately hold so dear; “slow” is ok, “slow” is connecting.
Not only do I believe (despite the immediate and ever increasing demands of today’s academic world) that working with time consuming methods and techniques has real value, but actually I feel that it is important. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you just need to get shit done, but when I do – just crank it out – I typically miss stuff; maybe “small” stuff, usually good stuff, often the kind of stuff that connects the dots..
Take this for example; I had always thought of myself as coming from a long line of knitters. However, all of my work on these folders (above images), quilted inside out to show the labour of the art -all of its “mistakes”, “revisions”, collaged information, and “scars” – naturally drew the question from my aunt a recent family gathering, “Danielle, how is your work going this summer, your dad says you’ve been working hard?” To which I began an short explanation which, initiated the most wonderful conversation between she and my father about my paternal great grandmother’s quilting. Following that conversation about old worn quilts, my aunt also generously gifted me with two of my great-grandmother’s quilts (they are exquisite, and each somewhere between eighty and a hundred years old) that my father didn’t remember ever seeing. I had no idea about this quilting history on my paternal side, and feel even more closely connections to my family, and to the quilting community of makers as a result. To think that I could have just made the digital corrections to my original exam, and sent them back.. I’d of missed out on the gift of that wonderful time with my aunt and father, as well as the increased knowledge of my maker history. As UK author David Gauntlett writes in his book, Making is Connecting, people really do connect through creativity, creating and strengthening their sense of community.
I am challenging myself to take the time to research the history, and feminist politics behind “craft”, or rather as I prefer to think of it, feminized materials and techniques (knitting, sewings, embroidering are after all, simply other ways to make sculpture and painting that are comparable casting, welding and silk screening). I also want know those politics by engaging in them – living them in academia.
I hope that academia will continue to make space for me, and others working similarly.