As I sifted through my photos of the Infinite Variety exhibition, I realized that the only detail shots I took were of allover embroidered quilts, ones with pictorial or text elements, or both. This is something that I’ve noticed before, the way themes emerge from a body of photos I take without an agenda, generally indicating interests I wouldn’t have necessarily realized I had. (Oh, subconscious mind, what are you up to back there?)
This one is embroidered with more than 100 children’s handprints, with their name and age inside. I can’t figure out what population that would have been drawn from — the ages ranged from 3 months to 4 years, so not a school. Hospital? Town? Church? There wasn’t any identifying information on it anywhere.
This one was presumably a fundraiser for the Newburgh Red Cross. There are a number of cutesy repeat motifs, then some random proverbs and adages (I thought I had a shot of the ‘Ill blows the wind that profits no one,’ block, but I guess not) and the occasional city name. I don’t know what that Battle Hymn of the Republic one is all about though.
This one was covered with presumably thousands of names, arranged into patterns. Again, since there was no identifying information it’s hard to know what sort of occasion this was meant to commemorate.
This one though, was my favorite. Simple whole-cloth panels covered with small, whimsical motifs: portraits, soldiers, real animals, fanciful animals, plants, flowers, butterflies, birds, scattered around without regard for scale or any relationship between the items. It feels like a sketchbook, or a diary even. Looking at it, I almost felt like I was prying into something I shouldn’t be.