She buys the thread in bulk at the local dime store but the fabrics come from her stash.
Finally putting these fabrics to use - some having lain fallow for years - gives them a purpose to be sure, but it also represents a letting go, the slow elimination of a life's accumulation.
This diary is in this sense a purge. From this release, a disquieting question arises about the nature of the undertaking.
What aspect is more significant, the slow unfurling of the daily stitchery, its limitless capacity materialized row upon row, panel after panel?
Or the gradual erosion of a life's potential always on the horizon, here reflected in that treasury of fabrics secreted away for future use?
Not To Know but To Go On presents itself as what remains, the beautiful detritus of life that can only be registered through the passage of time.
Time, her work emphasizes cannot be paused, and even the artist ceases to maintain control of it.
As days sprawl into weeks, as months pass, then years, the scale of the private and controlled endeavor of Not to Know But To Go On threatens to overtake the artist, spilling out of her studio, extending her environment.
Barely containable, Martin's stitch diary rolls out as a chronograph of her life but also an indicator of the inevitability of the passage of time.
These long quilted panels materialize the past.
If an understanding of the past cannot be reached, it can still be spatialized.
All text from Dr. Elizabeth Kalbfleisch's essay about the work in the Mended World Exhibition.
Images are of the figuring out how to display it, and about how to ship it (weight is nearly 40 lbs).
Thanks to my husband Ned for his support throughout, and for the beautiful custom wooden crate.