Shortly after I began work on The Linens Project my life was shattered by exposure to toxic mold, which in turn pushed my symptoms from Lyme disease to where they were crippling. On good days I worked on this project—cleaning linens, writing drafts of blog posts, learning to embroider. There weren’t a lot of good days. But I believed in this project, and was determined to see it happen.
It turns out I wasn’t the only one who believed in this project and was determined to see it happen. Friends asked if they could embroider a poem—which in and of itself was generous, but more so given that while most of my friends are artists, almost none had ever done embroidery. As the date for the opening of The Linens Project at the Western Mass RLC came closer I had a friend offer to write my press release—which a lifesaver given how confused I’ve been. Other friends have worked to help get the word out about the opening. So while the poetry on the linens is my work, and the vision is mine, this has become something far bigger than me. And I am both excited and humbled by how people have come forward to be a part of this project, and I see it continuing after this first show in Greenfield.
I still have the almost finished drafts of blog posts about what has happened with this project, and I will be posting them as they are finished. Until then, here is the press release that Marianne Connolly wrote for the opening next week.
Dates: March 7 – June 7, 2014
Opening reception and poetry reading: March 7, 6-9:00 pm
Location: Western Mass. RLC; 74 Federal Street, Greenfield, MA
Open Hours: Monday – Wednesday 1-4:00 pm; Friday 2:30-5:00 pm
Contact Information: (413) 772-0715
Laura Gail Grohe is a poet with a passion for language and history. In The Linens Project she literally stitches those passions together by embroidering her poems on antique linens such as table runners, napkins and baby clothes. These compelling works are sometimes lyrical, like the love poem stitched on a table runner, and sometimes challenging, like the poem about abuse embroidered on a baby’s christening gown.
Grohe collects her linens from junk stores and tag sales, finding it hard to leave behind a placemat or a handkerchief that has embroidery or handmade lace but is being sold for a dollar. She repairs, washes, starches and irons before the pieces are embroidered, reflecting the labor of women in the past who worked on these same linens. Although she’s expert at intricate beading, Grohe wasn’t experienced with embroidery, and a team, including her husband and friends, worked with her on the series. On March 7, at the opening reception, many of those people will read the poems they worked with.
The Linens Project is the final show in the “Life Systems” series, curated by artist Adrian Montagano. The series concept invited artists to explore the question: What do you see and experience in life that is not part of “consensus reality.” The exhibit will be at the Western Mass. RLC from March 7 through June 7, 2014. The opening reception will be on March 7 from 6 to 9:00 pm, with a poetry reading by Grohe and other area artists.
You can read more about this project on Grohe’s blog: https://linensproject.wordpress.com/
You are a Buddhist
and I’m a witch
We meet here
on plains of fire
to build with air
of God ourselves
from bone deep stillness.
Creatures of spirit
made of dust and hope.
We ride waves
and weave shadows
Spinning, spinning, spinning
we raise the new day.
Laura Gail Grohe