Tapestry Identity is artist Mary Corey March’s ongoing project representing the complexities of human sense of self and simultaneous interconnection by creating a group “portrait.” The 20-foot-long installation made of hand-dyed yarn is on display at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, through May 12.
The San Francisco-based artist has created the series of Tapestry Identity installations — this is “Iteration #12” — by inviting participants to choose a color of yarn that best represents them and connecting it through statements of identity or life experience printed on paper labels in small acrylic plaques.
Beginning from the left, participants loop their yarn through each of the 250 statements that apply to them or statements that reveal only their most essential identity markers, such as “I define my own gender,” “I am fortunate,” “I am attracted to women,” “My racial identity is important to me,” “I love my country,” “I don’t trust the government” and “I have loved deeply”.
Each piece of yarn is a different length, spooled onto a small stone. The stones and remaining yarn are left to drape from the final plaque selected, either hanging or resting on the floor. Sometimes, as in life, one runs out of yarn before the mapping is complete.
March says her work exists in a space between what is traditionally considered high art and craft. It plays on ideas of what is high or low technology, as well as assumptions about gender roles with her choice of material and process.
“In the case of my interactive pieces, the participant enters liminal space during their interaction,” she explained in her artist’s statement.
“They hover between definitions — making choices within a system — which express something of their identity and experiences. The results can be something like data visualizations.”
She says that although she utilizes a range of materials in her works, she is drawn increasingly to fiber because of its ability to form lines for drawing, and ways to create connections between objects or ideas.
“Different fiber techniques express concepts by their nature and history, like the way stitching expresses a technique for holding both fabric and the damaged body together; or how embroidery was used for centuries to record histories, both national and personal,” she explained.
“Among the fiber techniques, weaving is the most compelling to me. It is one of the earliest marks of civilization and, at the same time, the basis for computing. Jacquard looms were arguably the first computers. This makes weaving an ideal medium for exploring the intersection of high tech and craft.”