Although textiles are often relegated to academic backwaters in terms of anthropological research, the social significance of textiles cannot be underestimated. The most innocuous dishtowel and the most sublime Oriental rug are both produced within particular cultural contexts and are productive of those contests. Through textiles, we can explore art, society, politics, religion and more, making connections between cultures and through time. Textiles surround and swaddle us from birth to death, a part of the social fabric, bringing meaning to our physical, emotional and spiritual lives. The stories of our lives can be told through textiles. Culture and history can be explored through the study of textiles. Cloth is part of our past, present and future, embedded in our consciousness in ways we may not be aware. Exploring our textile past can reveal the hidden meanings in cloth and fill the gaps in history and cultural knowledge.
My Sonoran Souls essay and artwork speaks to the culture of cloth and how critical issues are part of the social fabric.
The Sonoran Desert is my inspiration for this small work of art. This unique desert holds many secrets; delightful and dark. Native desert plants yield dye colors to explore and appreciate, while border crossings require thoughtful soul searching. While delivering water to hidden stations in Organ Pipe National Monument, I often found scraps of cloth left behind, sometimes entire blankets which I used to create art pieces in honor of the missing. The tiny wool bundles in this piece represent the souls lost in the vastness of the Sonoran Desert; the disappeared, the desperate, the forgotten ones. Wrapped in the colors of the Southwest, Mexico and Central America, some bundles are tied, some loose, some show wear and tear from a dangerous crossing. How many are lost in this mesmerizing world of heat and beauty? We’ll never know…but they are now profoundly anchored to this landmark and threads in the social fabric of our lives.