The untold stories of women. They’re all around us, everywhere we look, but they’re not easy to see unless you’re looking for them. Now, a Dublin mother-daughter artist duo has come together to celebrate those stories and shine a light on them.
The latest exhibit at the Dublin Community Center pairs the work of Jane El Simpson and her daughter, Paige. While the two don’t work in the same medium, similarities abound.
“It’s amazing to me,” said Margaret Baker, a designer who works nearly side-by-side with Jane in their adjacent office space in Peterborough. “It’s really, really evident that they’re either related or they’re really in sync.”
Jane, a fine art framer by trade, had recently scored a skein of muslin from a client; when the opportunity arose for a show in Dublin, she cut the fabric into garment shapes and shipped it off to Paige, who’s now printmaking in Hudson, New York. Paige printed it with her signature icon – hands – and sent it back, for Jane to stitch into clothing.
“I love the history of handwork (quilting, knitting, embroidery) as a silent action that creates communal opportunity, traditionally but not exclusively for women, to develop relationships and share their wisdom,” Paige wrote in her artist’s statement. “Lending someone a hand is the most powerful catalyst for building a community. Laboring side by side is what offers a chance for two different people to express and listen to each other with mutual respect.”
And when you hear Jane explain it, it’s clear the two are cut from the same cloth.
“Sewing and garments are commonly thought of as women’s work,” Jane said, “but if it didn’t happen, where would we all be? It’s sort of a metaphor for behind the scenes work that happens that’s maybe not necessarily given enough recognition.”
For her part, Jane is employing her collection of old, unidentified photos of women.
“They’re like lost souls,” she said. “There’s no name, who they are, but they’re absolutely stunning photos. I felt like they needed to have a second chance at life.”
These, she applies to fabric, using metal fasteners (another element of sewing that usually remains hidden). Then, Jane stitches a quote from a famous woman onto the fabric and frames them with the final touch.
“Each one of them is attached to a fragment of a book which represents the lost stories of women,” she said.
The Dublin Community Center is located in the center of town at 1123 Main Street. The show will hang through the month of March. For hours and more information, visit www.dublincommunitycenter.org.
Arts Editor Ben Conant can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.