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 a labor of love 

Brooke Armstrong & Willow Lanchester

February 2022

“Love is reckless; not reason

Reason seeks a profit.

Love comes on strong,

consuming herself, unabashed.

 

Yet, in the midst of suffering,

Love proceeds like a millstone,

Hard surfaced and straightforward.

 

Having died to self-interest,

She risks everything

and asks for nothing

Love gambles away

every gift God bestows.”

 

-Jalāl al-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

You have been lied to. Some of the lies are beautiful. 

You have been loved. Some of that love is true. 

You have been hurt. Some of that hurt will never leave you.

You have been happy. Some of that happiness has saved your life. 

You have been unhappy. Some of that unhappiness has saved your life.”

- Ray Fawkes 

Brooke Armstrong - Artist Statement

Through beadwork, I aim to create forms that produce a sense of pleasure in the viewer. Beauty and sensuality are bodily experiences. They can create a sense of reciprocity as one gives up their imagined position at the center, realizing surrounding life. Like ornate rugs and textiles, objects that allow for transcendence and transformation, pattern and repetition created by the beaded forms entrances the viewer. The sculptures’ ambiguous shapes allow for a sense of tension, uncertainty and mystery.

 

Sensuality, the feminine, and craft are dialogs my work engages with. Repetition, inherent in craft practices, speaks of labor. Pleasure and labor can be in opposition, in this work they are one. Tedious labor and time can create a sense of intimacy while working. Historically, people have used beads to convey information and state relationships to life and the supernatural. Beads have served as reminders of commitments, beliefs and principles. For me, the process of making beads rejects efficiency. Each bead I make is a quiet act of resistance. Bead after bead, many parts create a whole.

 

The idea for a labor of love was inspired by the poem Love is Reckless by Rumi. The meticulous process of making through small pieces or marks is satisfying, labor intensive, frustrating, time consuming and pleasurable. Like love, it can test one’s patience, be heart wrenching, teach life lessons and make you swear off the process all together. Making these works requires mental strength and discipline. It requires a sense of being present in the moment. I touch the material, it responds, eliciting another response, a conversation. There is an openness between the form and myself, a relationship. Making allows for a gentleness in the morning and brings vibrancy to my night. In the end, when the work is finished, peace has been made and I feel ready for it all over again.

Willow Lanchester - Artist Statement

Leading up to this exhibition I have thought a lot of labors of love in my life, and I set out to make drawings and objects that reflected a soothing and meditative state. I wanted them to be loving. To some degree I believe these works have achieved that, but the more I worked on them the more these pieces became like scar tissue. The drawings became remnants of violence, whether long since healed over or more recently scabbed, I cannot tell you. I wouldn't tell you if I knew. The wooden sculptures became skeletal shells. A left behind thing. Empty.

 

While I set out with different intentions, these pieces are no less a labor of love than what they would have been. They are maybe the repetitive and uncomfortable love of healing. In these drawings I find beauty in the memory of pain. I worried that these works weren’t going to  manage to be about love at all, but they are, even if that love is a more difficult kind. 

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