The Decorative Art of Daily Living

(2002-2003) is a somewhat site-specific, endurance-performance based installation created during my time in Chicago.  This work consists of white cotton “cozies” made for all of my living room furniture (the documentation of the large bookcase cozy was damaged in a flood unfortunately).  This installation is the perfect example of my working methodology:  concept to process.  I am a master of nothing.  After having the idea for this installation, I went to a nearby yarn shop, asked the owner to show me one stitch and I was off to the races!  I had no idea what I was doing in terms of traditional construction or crocheting, I just knew I had to make the work.  I worked for 4 or 5 months straight, sleeping very little, drinking coffee and crocheting my furniture into useless objects.  Cozies are traditionally used to cover objects while they are not in use, to keep dust off, etc.  When the work was installed it rendered my entire living room useless……another failure to function.

It seems quite obvious that this project deals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as well as intense and extended mania.  At this point in my career I was diagnosed with and medicated for Bipolar Disorder 1, but clearly the medication was NOT working as I did nothing but crochet.  The installation also has video documentation of me working and watching the television show King of the Hill.  I was definitely un-hinged because if the viewer listens closely to the audio of this document, there are many occasions of me talking to the characters on the show as if they could hear me.  Lord of the Rings had just come out on cable and I watched it 86 times during the production of this installation.

Everything about my life during this period shifted to work.  I rarely left my house except to attend a weekly class, my social life deteriorated unless friends were willing to come to Ravenswood.  I had my groceries delivered.

The grid, again, figures into this work simply as a series of stitches.  I had to count and keep track of my place in each piece for the next session when I actually managed to break away from crocheting.  With time and if the cozies are installed and not in storage, they begin to sag a bit from the sheer weight of all that yarn.  The first piece I finished was the couch.  After stitching it together and slipping it onto the couch I remember running around maniacally like a mad scientist who had just invented the first teleportation device.

The other element to this installation was a garment I made to wear at the opening and then later display on a dress form.  This wedding dress, made of used dryer sheets, reinforces my obsession with the grid and also highlights my propensity for hoarding seemingly unimportant detritus (see Decorative Art of Daily Living:  Hair Drawings).  The other element of note to this wedding dress is the fact that dryer sheets are made of a material that is essentially akin to felt, and animal fat.  When I learned that, I immediately became more excited and dreamed of my impossible wedding to Joseph Beuys.  The dress does unfortunately have one flaw:  a flesh-toned lining.  Even at my normal weight I was uncomfortable wearing a sheer garment and now look at that as a cop out.  But maybe Joseph Beuys would have appreciated my modesty.