Strap me in

So, these overalls.  I stumbled into them, many pairs, and have been hoarding them like a dragon with precious treasure.  My own mother says she nearly fainted when she saw a pic of me in them.  She's very proper and elegant and always shudders at my little old man aesthetics. 

I see so much beauty in each and every pair, but it's just silly to keep them all.  Unless I want to wear them for the rest of my life - which isn't unthinkable.  They remind me so much of traditional and contemporary boro, and stitching classes I've taken with Jude Hill and Arlee Barr, techniques of layering and FrankenStitching (Arlee doesn't seem to want to have her work linked, but her class was amazing!), sashiko embroidery, and indigo dyeing (which I studied with Glennis Dolce).  It's even reminiscent of the crust punk style of layered patchwork, which adds in the grunge element.  And it's a tiny bit like my own make-do-and-mend, patchwork style of embroidery and appliqué.  But I can't take any credit for the immense work that went into these overalls.  Still, I can honor it, the work I think of many hands. 

It didn't occur to me until I looked at the photos that I should acknowledge the irony of wearing them around our place, and then even selling some.  Am I like a carpetbagger?  I don't have to wear them.  I don't have to work the land and mend my clothes.  I'm not dirt poor in that way (although one could argue that modern debt is a different kind of poverty).  I doubt the previous bodies in these clothes wore them as a fashion statement, so am I folking them over?  Maybe my assumption also comes out of privilege - they may have known how badass they looked.

overalls 5 ink - 3.jpg

The work these clothes evidence is the beauty in them.  So much care was taken to preserve the wearing of these garments, the complete opposite of our culture of synthetic disposables, and a new wardrobe with every season.  So I saved them from the landfill, and I adore them.  They seem to encapsulate most things I love: the land, family, farming, mending, preserving, DIY, caregiving, even questions of class and gender (who wore and who mended?), and also all that is ragged, tattered, abandoned or forgotten, melancholic, spectral and storied, the Faulkner-esque gothic art made out of the backbreaking labor and the color line, ghosts of the South that are still not dead. 

P.S. Every single pair of overalls had many pockets that were full to the gills... what an archaeological adventure this has been...

Posted on June 7, 2017 .