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Marie Watt


自十八世紀以來,Sewing Circle(縫紉圈)是藉著針黹藝術集結女性來分享想法的聚會。一連數天,5個縫紉圈聚集了300位參加者來回應這提問,有的來刺繡自己的答案,有的為別人刺繡答案,她們毋須有刺繡經驗,只須在藝術家 Marie Watt 的團隊事先以皺紋紙帶貼上的草稿布上用針線盡情發揮自己的創意。

“What do you want to sing a song for in this moment?”

Since the 18th century, Sewing Circles were formed to bring women together to share ideas while engaging in the art of needlework. Over several days, five Sewing Circles were established, and 300 participants came together to express their thoughts and inspiration through embroidery. Some participants embroidered their own answers, while others embroidered answers for their peers. No prior embroidery experience was necessary; all participants needed to do was unleash their creativity with thread and needle, and sew their thoughts onto the fabric lined by masking tapes, which were prepared by the artist Marie Watt and her team.

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「我想説的是,當我擺設好桌子,之後所發生的事情是由共享空間中的每個人創造出來的。在聚會中,我們坐在相連的長桌,我會把它視作一個圈子,歡迎所有人,毋須縫紉經驗,是一個跨越年代、跨學科、多元文化的聚會。當你的眼睛轉移注意力,並運用著像布料這種既熟悉又親密的東西時,想法一直流動,人們也聯繫起來。對我來說,這是模仿了土著的教學和學習方式 —— 一種在西方學術之前便一直存在的方式,通過不同的文化、不同的世代、圍坐在一起,縫紉圈的意圖不是為了達到某些目的或製造某些物品,而是為了與鄰里、陌生人和自己聯繫。」


因為三月份舉行的香港藝術週聚集了世界各地的藝術愛好者,讓我有機會在油街涼亭和來自紐約的MARC STRAUS GALLERY 總監 Aniko Erdosi 相遇,在交流中知道了他們正在進行的展覽 《Singing Everything》,聽來和我的《慢針黹牧民》的理念不謀而合。

2022 年春天,Marie在惠特尼美國藝術博物館(Whitney Museum of American Art)舉辦了一系列縫紉圈活動。「我們在工作室,模仿每位參加者的手,把收集回來的答案轉移到回收的羊毛毯上;如果手寫的文字是一個人身體的延伸和聲音的韻律,那麼這些由跨越年代的手所刺繡出來的布片,就像擴音器般把字面的含義放大。」Marie説。

“I like to say that I set the table and what happens after that is created by everybody in that shared space. In these gatherings, we sit at a long continuous table which I compare to a circle. All ages are welcome. No sewing experience is required, it’s often a cross generational, cross disciplinary, multicultural gathering. When your eyes are diverted and you are working with something as familiar and intimate as cloth, ideas flow and people connect. For me, it mimics an indigenous way of teaching and learning. A way of teaching and learning that has always existed prior to western academic institutions. By having different cultures, generations, act around the table it’s a different way of teaching and learning. The sewing circles aren’t a means to an end or to make some object, they are a means to connect with neighbors and strangers and oneself.”

Marie Watt is an artist with German-Scott ancestry. Her complex background and points of influence are reflected profoundly in her work featuring Indigenous knowledge, Iroquois protofeminism, matriarchal structures of certain Native American tribes, the rise of social activism throughout the 20th century, and the anti-war and anti-hate content of 1960s and 1970s music.

The art week in Hong Kong that took place during March has attracted lots of enthusiasts from around the world, and I had the opportunity to meet Aniko Erdosi, the director of MARC STRAUS GALLERY from New York, at the Oil Street Art Space. Through our conversation, I learned about their exhibition, Singing Everything, which resonated with the philosophy behind my project, SLOW STiTCH NOMAD.

In the spring of 2022 Marie Watt facilitated a series of Sewing circles at the Whitney Museum of American art. “In my studio we worked to mimic the hand of each participant, and translated the answers from participants into panels of reclaimed wool blankets. If the handwritten word is an extension of one’s body and the cadence of one’s voice, then all the intergenerational hands embroidering these panels amplify the intention.” Marie said.



Jingle Dress Dance(叮噹服飾舞) 在1910年代流感大流行期間開始作為Ojibwe部落的一種治療儀式,亦被視為激進的行為,事關1883年美國禁止土著禮儀集會;一個世紀後禁令終於1978年隨著《美洲印第安人宗教自由法案》被廢除,今天就以pow-wow dance(哇哇舞)的形式繼續與治療聯繫在一起。


Sewing the tinned bells and jingles on reclaimed wool blankets, “Blankets are danced and so are jingles, there is something healing about them both. They are objects of comfort by way of touch or sound.”  Marie described.

The Jingle Dress Dance began as a healing ritual in the Ojibwe tribe in the 1910s during the influenza pandemic and It was also considered as a radical act. In 1883, the United States banned Indigenous ceremonial gatherings. Though the ban was repealed in 1978 with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, during its century-long prohibition the Jingle Dress Dance was shared with other tribal communities. Today it is a pow-wow dance and continues to be associated with healing.

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不論是一件恤衫或一塊毛毯,這些都是保護我們免受寒冷或外來危險的東西,就像是第二層皮膚把我們包裹著;而織物在Marie的作品中經常扮演重要的角色,尤其在Blanket Stories (毛毯故事)中,她重塑捐贈者的物料,把本身與物主的經歷嵌進她的作品裡;近年她專注於通過與北美各地的縫紉圈合作,制作掛毯,活動中在桌上建立的友誼和故事敘述才是最終的目標。

In the entrance of the gallery, there is a 24-foot-long neon sign spelling out the words “deer, skywalker, heron, bass, great lake, woodland, beaver, turtle, wolf, lowly, muskrat, rat”. While the piece represents a new direction in Marie’s work, she views neon as an extension of beadwork, because they both envelop light, color, and sound, various hues that evoke the sky on the horizon during sunset and sunrise.

While drawing from long craft traditions such as textile or glass work, Marie is expanding her work by including contemporary stories and both individual and collective experiences. Her primary interest is to think about art as more experiential, rather than only visual. She deals with history and presents it in a form that is characterized by humanity and forms platforms that are open to new thoughts about the past, present and future.

Whether a shirt or a blanket, these are the items that protect us against cold and external dangers, just like we wrap ourselves in it like a second skin. Textiles consistently play a role in Marie’s works, especially in Blanket Stories she reconstructed the materials that were actually donated by people, embedded with their own histories before even becoming part of her projects. A focus in recent years has been sewn tapestries, often produced through collaboration with sewing circles around North America. Social engagements in which the fellowship and storytelling around the table can be crucial to the resultant object.