My work is inspired by nostalgia and objects of naïve wonder. The sense of wonder I had as a child is present as I create my own designs, patterns, and dyes. The process of making a new work is similar to that of getting older: just as our bodies and minds evolve with time, so does the texture, color, and depth of a piece of art. The beginning of a project is akin to the blank slate of childhood — there are limitless possible endings.
In my time dwelling on nostalgia, I found that too much becomes a poison to one’s evolution. The rose-colored tint of nostalgia becomes the new standard and the current happenings of our everyday life become gray and comfortless. The colors I use in my pieces reflect the rosy glow of nostalgic memories, bringing it into the present.
I am drawn to fiber as an artistic medium because of the comfort the material provides. Soft materials will always be a place of warmth to return to — much like the memories I hold in my mind from those days of childhood, wrapped in my mothers’ warm embrace. My work does this by connecting the viewer to the naïvety of childhood through unexpected placement of materials and found objects.
-Maddy McGill, 2021
My childhood coloring from ages 3-5
My bathtub to provide an environment for the image transfers
Gold paint with an underpainting of brown for antiqued effect
The following sheer fabrics:
White handkerchief Linen
Gold satin taken from a bed sheet
Blush and purple chiffon
White chiffon from a sheer curtain
Apricot sheer tricot
Champagne and peach crystal
This piece is a celebration of childhood creativity. The images transferred onto the fabric are pictures I colored from 2002 to 2005. Going through the drawings allowed me to bond with my young self and remember my mindset at that age. These being my earliest documented thoughts, show the beginning of my growth and what would come to be. There is something fascinating to appropriate something so trivial as drawings from my childhood to be uplifted in such a way that celebrates the mind of a child and to become a part of my first time exhibiting artwork in my young adulthood.
My flower Girl dress worn in 2005 to my mom’s wedding
Rocks collected from outside my apartment
Small hair bands used to trap rocks in the fabric
Boiling water which froze the ghosts of the rocks in the fabric
Rust from metal trinkets
Vinegar to succumb the fabric to the metal
Weather of February 2020 to April 2020
This piece was made from my flower girl dress from my mom and step dad’s wedding in 2005. They recently got divorced and so I turned it into a symbol of freedom. This process began by leaving the dress outside for a month covered with metal objects, and saturating it in vinegar. This technique created rust stains all over my pretty white gown. Using a seam ripper, scissors, and my hands to tear the fabric, I then dismembered the body of the dress. With the individual pieces, I used a shibori technique by tying rocks into the fabric and boiling it. After all of this destruction, I then sewed each piece back together into one piece of cloth.
In my childhood home, when I would have a bad dream or couldn’t sleep, my mom would sing to me and rock me in her lap on a rocking chair. The three lullabies she sang were Woodland Lullaby, Goodnight Moon, and Dreamship. The phrases I remember are embroidered on the seat cushion. The ties nod to her playing the roles of both a mom and a dad and raising two daughters alone. Previously used ties create a new skin on the chair. In spending so much time with these ties, I couldn’t help but to wonder about the men that once wore them — if they are fathers, if they’d be better than mine.
Six sweaters and one pair of house shoes knitted by my mimi
Four different compositions of crochet, taken apart to complete the final composition
Twelve hours of labor unraveling knit pieces
Stains from wearing the sweaters for years before taking them apart
This piece is made of all of the things my dad’s mom, Mimi, knit me in her lifetime. It is made of the yarn unknit from six sweaters and one pair of house shoes. In the middle where the stitches start, the squares are tight and easily defined, but with each row of crochet, the outer portions of the piece become warped and wavy. This is how my memory has become of my dad’s family. It has been seven years since I last saw them and as time continues to pass, more memories of them fade and change.
Small stains show the history of the clothing. My favorite sweater was especially hard to unravel because it had become matted from being worn so much. Working with such a large quantity of yarn unraveled all at once, made it easy for the yarn to get knotted so I was forced to cut and join the tangled yarn with other pieces, showing the blips in my memory.
The pockets are made of sections of the garments that I did not unravel and the buttons were sewn onto the sweaters. As time passes, and this blanket is moved, more of the original knit will unravel, leaving only its bones. In each pocket are the remains of the yarn not crocheted into the piece.
I Miss Being Small
Antique farming yoke collected from a loft of a family farm
Rust from metal trinkets
Vinegar to corrode the materials
Weather of March 2020 to May 2020
Audio diary from February 18, 2020
This piece reflects the depression that resulted in my obsession with focusing on romanticized childhood memories. To develop my art, I would meditate on these things. After a while of spending way too much time thinking about past events, I found myself just trying to get through the day instead of enjoying each moment.
I started by crocheting the rope into heavy, uneven fringe and rust dying it by leaving it outside for a month, pierced with nails and submerged in vinegar. The words burned into the yoke are taken from an audio journal entry, taken the night that I got to the peak of my depression. The knots show where I have been put back together after being broken.
I've Become a Lazy Bag of Bones
Phoenix clay rings handmade by my sister, my mom, and me
Cotton Twine Rope
Hours of taking apart and putting together different compositions of the circles
Overwhelming numbness was the worst part of my depression. This piece is a depiction of experiencing that numbness day after day. Circles are representative of a moment in time. During my depression, all the present moments became colorless, dry, and unexciting.
This piece is made of over one thousand hand-made ceramic circles crocheted together into a figure. The circles combining into one can become quite heavy, just like the days after being numb for so long.
What if we Lived on the Ceiling?
Worn white, off-white, and gray clothing cut into strips
Shisha mirrors and mirrored vinyl
Accumulated glass beads
The following sheer fabrics for manipulation:
Champagne and peach crystal organza
Pale pink crushed sheer voile
Rose gold and white glitter tulle
Bronze tissue lame
A child’s brain is filled with wonder. Scientifically, children have more connections per brain cell, making their brains more active and flexible. When I was young, one thing I would frequently do is turn upside-down on a stool and wonder what it would be like to live on the ceiling. This piece allowed me to play with all sorts of fabric manipulation, letting my child-like experimenting brain run free. Not only did it let me experience my childlike wonder again, but with some of the inside visible, it encourages the viewer to not let the neutral colored outside strands turn you away, but to wonder what you may encounter on the inside. The mirrors on the ground face the intricate fabric manipulation and warp the images reflected in them, performing to us what the “ceiling world” might be like.