A tall shadow dressed how secrets always dress

when they want everyone to know that they're around

 -Jason Molina, “Almost Was Good Enough”

Lurking behind rupturing blooms and snares of embroidered filigree, sorrow has a style. Inseparable visual companions of country music, western shirts, dense with vivid ornamentation, betray the desolate reality of the American mountain west; expanses made inhospitable by cruel weather, the boom and louder bust of industry, the thin companionship of rural habitation, and the violent shudders of cabin fever.

 

This punishing terrain has populated the imagination with figures supernaturally distorted. Within the American folkloric tall tale, Pecos Bill harnessed the power of regional climate by lassoing a tornado. Lyrically, country ballads by tragic figures including Hank Williams have given rise to the perpetually brooding rambler, a man self haunted to eternally wander a psychic lost highway under a chorus of whip-poor-wills. Equal parts superstition and fraud, Snake Oil Salesmen redefined ‘western medicine’ by capitalizing on the plague of ailments endemic to the early 20th century with an array of curative serums.

 

Drawing from the fantastical sources of visual and narrative culture within county music and Western Americana, my work proposes a magical realist relationship between the embellished garment and the inflated identity. Sewn charms of the Sooth Stitcher offer improbable cures to the demands of rugged isolationism through physically transformative sympathetic magic. Artifacts of this metaphysical sewing service, including quilted hyperbolic advertisements and embroidered garment fragments, suggest a mysterious figure capable of conducting transfiguration through needle and thread.