Text-iles, 2007 / Series of unique book objects / Printing & writing on Dobbin Mill papers, wood & metal bobbins
Size: 7” in height
Proverbial Threads, 2007/9 / Series of 100+ unique book objects / Printing on Dobbin Mill papers, wood & metal bobbins
Size: from 3.5” to 12” in height
One bobbin is from the Pratt Institute Libraries Special Collections
text-iles consists of a series of 11 industrial textile bobbins, each with
a hanging translucent paper scarf, printed with a proverb about
women’s work. The texts were manipulated to create textile-weaving
patterns on the paper.
I had found, over the course of reading and research, countless examples of proverbs from around the world that encapsulated those cultures’ perspectives on the role of women and their labors.
The examples here of Proverbial Threads are part of a larger open series of book objects that utilizes text, with proverbs from cultures around the world that describe women’s work.
These proverbs are misogynistic, regardless of their culture of origin. The industrial bobbins are wrapped with strips of paper, which are sometimes cut & spun to appear to be a thread. Threads are emblematic of rote repetition, a concept that applies to the passing down of outmoded proverbs as well as notions of “women’s work.” I chose to use vintage bobbins as in the 19th
century, young women were often the garment workers in this US industry.
A Selection of proverbs:
The woman is never in charge. (Ibo, Nigeria)
One lame son is more valuable than eighteen golden daughters. (Chinese)
The wife’s death, a replacement in bed. (Chechen)
Women are necessary evils. (English, UK)
A wife is the best piece of furniture (Dutch)
Housewife at home, pancake in honey. (Russian)
A woman who is beaten is going to be a better wife. (Korean)
A young wife should be no more than an echo or a shadow in her husband’s house. (Japanese)
To educate a woman is like putting a knife in the hand of a monkey. (Hindi, India)
Be good to your own wife and you can have your neighbor’s. (Arabic, widespread)
A clear sky and a smiling woman are not to be trusted. (Swedish)
A good wife is the workmanship of a good husband. (English, USA)
A bone for my dog; a stick for my wife. (Hungarian)
Women are like shoes, they can always be replaced. (Rajasthani, India)
A woman with big breasts, you should marry, bury or put into a nunnery. (Spanish)