Fiber artist goes deep in Breck
summit daily news
Artists are known for delving into the roots of human emotion, and Joetta Maue is no exception. In fact, she thrives on depicting conflicting emotions and contradictions.
“In moments of pain we experience joy, and in moments of joy we have sorrow,” Maue said. “In my work, I celebrate the contradictions and dynamism of the joy and sadness of life.”
In high school, she planned to become an artist because, “essentially, it was the only thing I was good at,” she said. In college, she majored in photography, and started a 10-year exploration of issues of trauma, particularly body image, sexuality and reclaiming one’s body from physical and emotional trauma.
But, after a decade of portraying autobiographical work, her healing took her to a place where “I was over it, and I wanted my work to be over it.” However, she discovered that habits are hard to break, so she entered graduate school to seek out her next step.
As a final good-bye to the trauma theme, she decided to create an embroidery piece. Though she knew nothing about embroidery – and had to refer to a how-to book – she saw the medium as a metaphor of healing because it literally involved stitching.
Once she completed her piece, the meditative experience of embroidery hooked her.
“I fell in love with the physical experience of working with embroidery and working with fabric,” she said, adding that her mom sewed and her grandma crocheted, so “it sort of felt like coming home.”
She began to embroider a “gut statement of my day” every day, on small, found handkerchiefs. Through this expression, she focuses on themes of intimacy, especially in marriage – “how being in love can be so wonderful and so terrible, how you can be together and still feel alone … contradictions in intimacy and home.”
She loves using handkerchiefs because “they live in the home,” she said, adding she only uses linens that have been hand-worked.
“Through my text and images, I’m sort of giving the woman (who originally made the linen) a voice,” she said.
At the Tin Shop, she hopes to experiment with a new form of art: life-size pieces, using embroidery, applique and paint wash, that depict people sleeping. She’s fascinated with beds as metaphors, seeing them as places where humans are born, experience their most intimate and vulnerable moments, and ultimately slip into death.
Her background in photography informs her art, because she “sees as a photographer,” from the way she employs lighting to the manner in which she frames subjects. For her bed pieces, she shoots a friend sleeping, then projects the image onto linen, traces the photo and begins her fiber piece.
“Joetta’s work is really unique,” said Arts District coordinator Jenn Cram. “Her embroidery and subject matter give you a sneak peek into some intimate spaces. It is great to have a fiber artist with such intensity at the Tin Shop.”
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