In Memoriam, 2021
Lumen prints created with found bird bodies, hand-coated photo emulsion on fabric and embroidery hoops, with embroidery added in collective Sewing Circle/ Death Salon
Sewing Circle collaborators: Kit Abate, Lindsay Arnold, Rachel Brace-Stille, Monica Garcia, Ella Inderieden, Sophia McGovern, and Kelsey Pinckney
We are a circle of women, dressed in black, sitting in the sun. This is both a mourning and artmaking ceremony. We squint at the stenciling of bones on
cloth prints of bird carcasses.
I begin with the wings. My bird must have flight before I shape its cranium, its consciousness.
While surrounded by trees and birdsong, we fill in the skeletons with white thread and the imperfections of laughter. We add stories of messenger birds,
soul birds, and home to the circle. This is a healing space.
My stitches fumble across bone and feather. Our words meander through death, the cycles of life, and reincarnation.
Many of us have chosen not to become mothers yet. This is a privilege. One woman shares her great-grandmother’s death by illegal abortion. Another
woman wonders if we impart values too easily on our ancestors. This is a survival tactic. To honor the mothers before us, I give my ancestors choice.
They are strangers woven into my DNA, but they were not weak. Their strength shapes my bones.
My fingers remember my grandmother’s lessons. Slowly my stitches expand, breathing flight into death’s shadow. It is flawed and a thing of beauty, wrought
by patience, acceptance and the wisps of tradition.
- Excerpt from Women’s Work by Sophia McGovern