After my grandfather's
death in 2010, my family spent months assisting my grandmother with the incessant confrontation of her husband's absence; she was suffering from dementia and often forgot that he was gone. When she, too, passed away, I inherited a large quantity of cotton thread that she and her sisters had once used to crochet doilies, stained with age and the numerous ambient qualities of my grandparent's house. I knew that I wanted to use it to construct some sort of animal's remains, and the practice of crocheting - a skill imparted to me by my grandmother - seemed to be a suitable way to help my idea take shape.
Crocheted cotton string, glue, 2011
Crochet is an extremely repetitive process, reminiscent of how I imagine, if that is even possible, it might feel to suffer from dementia, to feel the state of things slipping away constantly. My first sketch was an apocryphal rendering of a coelacanth; my intent was to relay the notion that this being had once been responsive to its empirical surroundings, which may or may not have operated according to the same parameters as the world in which we exist, and that it had been in some way transformed over the course of time; specifically, that it had deviated from its original, authentic form, the way a memory becomes warped with each passing day. This practice felt very natural to me, and allowed me to make use of my grief. I began using the method to fabricate delicate animal skeletons, with the addition of glue as a stiffening agent.
The act of stiffening intricately crocheted cotton string with glue produces material that is structurally similar to bone tissue, examined through a microscope. I view the string utilized in this process as the basic cellular unit of fabrication, and by utilizing media and practices inherited from my deceased relatives, I try to create emblems of my diminishing bloodline, embodied by each organism's skeletal remains. This body of work has certainly changed the way I view grief and loss. In a way, I now experience a heightened sense of awareness of the decay to which all things are subject. It began with that fish, which has since vacated my studio. I like that I can't exactly recall every curve and stitch of that particular sculpture - forgetting its authentic form adds to its completion, for me.
– Caitlin McCormack
Caitlin McCormack received a BFA in Illustration from the University of the Arts in 2010. She lives and works in Philadelphia, PA and currently receives representation by Paradigm Gallery + Studio, where her solo exhibit, Mnemosyne, is currently on display till December 12th, 2015. McCormach has exhibited her delicate crochet scultpures and other work in group and solo exhibitions nationally. She will be exhibiting work with artist Sabrina Small at the Mütter Museum's Contemporary Art Gallery in January, 2017. When she is not hunched over a crocheted skeleton on the floor of her studio, she can be found beneath a pile of cats with a cup of coffee or walking aimlessly through the city streets.