By a Thread

84 spools embroidery thread. 1,921 screws. ¾ pounds pig intestines.

December 2015

Gambier, Ohio


I started with thread. Thread and the idea that through repetition even something quiet and delicate can become loud enough to command the attention of a space. As each individual thread loses its presence as a separate entity, it becomes an elemental part of a larger system—essential yet anonymous. The woven grid on the ceiling became a way to impose order on the space, controlling the thread and creating stark verticals. To accentuate this precision, each thread needed something to weigh it down. I have always been fascinated with the ordinary and the idea that given the right presentation, anything can be beautiful. This is how I saw the screws. I was drawn to their instantly recognizable form, their austere and demanding simplicity, and finally the sense of danger and disquiet they imply when separated from their utilitarian context. While each screw is identical, their distance from the ground varies slightly, breaking down the order and precision and heightening the sense of unrest. The final element was dried pig intestine, which floats gently though the threads and starkly juxtaposing the regimented order created by the thread and screw. The pig intestine is simultaneously peaceful and aesthetic yet has a ghostly quality that is subtly unnerving. The installation embodies this dichotomy throughout: while it can elicit a sense of serenity, there is also the mesmerizing feeling that something is off.

I wanted to create solace in this installation—a transporting space that is tranquil yet mesmerizing. I had a plan in place from the very beginning and my largest obstacle became time. It became my obsession. Hour after hour, thread after thread. Sometimes, it was hard to see it ever becoming what I saw in my mind’s eye. But with each passing row, I felt the delicate presence of each thread unify and take its place in the bigger picture. And something about that made want to—need to—carry on.