In the Studio with Nina Earley
November 17, 2014 by Jess
“Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere.” - Henry David Thoreau, Walking
This is the quote with which I began my MFA thesis, which I wrote at the beginning of this year, at which point I could not have imagined how fitting it truly would become just a few months after completing graduate school. I am very familiar with Thoreau’s thought of being equally at home everywhere; having left my home country when I was 15, I belong both there and here, and feel as at home in these two countries as I do in places I spent only a year studying.
In my art this feeling manifests in the themes I explore: walking, memory, and place. I draw maps of walks in order to combat my fear of forgetting. My MFA thesis work centered on a walk in my hometown that I know very well, but no longer have ready access to. I have been using the drawings I make of these walks as negatives for cyanotypes, which I expose on fabric in the sun, later sewing further layers of the map lines on top of the print.
Once I had moved into my studio I thought that a good starting point for a new series would be Walden Pond. With these first few pieces I have started exploring the shape of Walden Pond, drawing a map with sewn lines, and allowing that shape to morph naturally. I am still working with cyanotype, though I’ve moved away from the flowing large cotton and silk organza panels for now in favor of canvas as backgrounds, using pieces of printed silk organza as part of the map lines and shapes. The stretched canvas allows for a different way to explore materials that the free-hanging cotton panels did not. As I am exploring new subject matter, I am also excited to be experimenting with some changes in material and seeing how those changes transform the work.