To Stitch is To Heal | Erin Endicott’s Healing Sutras

God enters through the wound” -CG Jung

Healing Sutra 13

Anagnorisis is proud to invite you to view our next solo exhibit taking place at the White Rabbit, The Healing Sutras: the exquisite painterly embroidery of Erin Endicott.

A unique breed of soft sculpture, Erin utilizes stitching and ink to “draw” on found objects – things that hold power because of their age and anthropomorphic wisdom.  Erin’s Healing Sutras tell stories of pain remembered and solace found.  They indicate hope and speak of feminine patience evidenced by the painstakingly small stitches that create flowing abstract shapes.

Erin spent time in Scotland studying textile design and finished her fine art education in Philadelphia where she currently resides.  An art teacher for many years, she recently decided to take time off to focus her attention completely on her art career.

So intrigued by her work, I asked her about the meaning behind the title she chose for the exhibit.  I was wondering what these intimate objects heal and where their sources lie.

Erin Endicott: To stitch; a thread or line that holds things together – this is the literal translation of the ancient Sanskrit word “sutra”. The “Healing Sutras” grew out of years of work examining psychological wounds (mainly my own), their origins and how they insinuate themselves into our lives. I’m particularly intrigued by the concept of inherited wounds, specific patterns, behaviors, reactions, that we are born with – already seeded into our psyche at birth. So I imagine that this little ”seed” attracts negativity (like attracts like), sort of a little pearl slowly growing until we end up with a dense area of negative energy built up in our physical bodies. By bringing these dark areas into the light, by making them visible, I think we can heal these wounds. Some people talk through their issues to bring healing, some write them out to shed light on them , I choose to make them into visible, visceral objects.

All of the “Healing Sutras” are on vintage fabric that has been passed down from women in my family. My history is literally woven into these garments. The initial marks of the “wounds” are created by staining the fabric with walnut ink. I love using this natural dye for the subtle color variations and the warm earthy tones. Ink on fabric has a mind of it’s own – it takes the control away from me and does it’s own thing. It is magical to drop the ink onto damp fabric and literally watch the “wound” grow and take shape before my eyes. This has been difficult for me – the letting go of the outcome and trusting in the process – it’s quite the opposite of the degree of control I have over the stitching. The organic shapes created by the walnut ink are a sort of map for me, the variations of tone and shape  setting the tone for the piece.

The stitching, the meditative process of it, is where i think the real healing comes in for me. I come from a more “Fine Art” background- drawing always being a real passion -  but I was never able to truly capture the essence of what I was trying to say until I began exploring this really process oriented work. To me these are a type of drawing – REALLY slow, deliberate drawings!

I could go on forever about the symbolism of the marks – the vein/roots, the cellular/seed shapes, the metaphor of the dress as skin, etc… There are so many layers of meaning in this work. I can’t even keep it all straight in my own mind let alone verbalize it! So it comes down to the stitches. One stitch at a time, hour after hour… this is where the healing lies.

SL: In my own artwork, I like to use objects I’ve found in various places.  Many of them were found in the homes of my family members and hold strong sentimental value.  Many people ask me how I could part with such a thing should I sell a work of art that has roots in my family.  How would you answer that question?

EE: I feel as if I am giving these vintage fabrics new life, a sort of re-birth as a piece of art. Most of the women in my family (including me) have “stashes” – that is, boxes and boxes of fabric we have collected over the years – hiding under beds and in closets. I remember looking through boxes of beautiful cloth that was stored under my Grandmother’s bed and I remember plenty of trips to the fabric store to buy more!! I inherited the love of textiles and have been collecting interesting fabrics and vintage linens since I was a teenager, and most of them are packed away in boxes, never to see the light of day! And just as my stitching brings my “wounds” to life, my stitching brings new life to beautiful pieces of cloth. I think it is important to share our knowledge and treasures with the world, and if someone is so moved by my work that they would like to own it, then I can with good conscience give up one of my “babies”! It still pulls at my heart to let a piece go, but maybe this is the final step in the “healing” work of these pieces?!

Antique fabrics, clothing and linens
My dowry passed down through generations
My history woven into this cloth
A fine cotton tablecloth
Lovingly mended by my great-grandmother
Becomes a little girl’s dress

Delicate cloth
Beautifully worn and threadbare
Stained by an artist’s hand
Walnut ink flowing into complex organic shapes
Subtleties of value, depth
Bringing the wound to life

Lost in the meditation of stitching
Repetition, contemplation
From within the fabric
Memories reveal themselves

Stitches, like words
The story grows
Lines graceful, unfurling
Drawing with thread
The Healing begins

You can view Erin’s work online here, and visit the work in person at the White Rabbit starting October 1st.  Please join us for the opening reception on Friday October 1, 7-10pm.  Details below.

White Rabbit Lounge
145 East Houston
between Forsyth and Eldridge
October 1 – November 2
Opening reception: October 1, 7-10pm
Video art by Daniella Bertol
Music by DJ Frankie Teardrop

2 Comments

  1. Hi Erin,
    Beautifully created….lovingly sensitive work. This world we live in needs all the healing we can give it.
    I’m sure your show was a success. Hope you had a splendid time.
    Diane Emerson

  2. Erin… I love your work. We met when you had your piece in Pittsburgh, I was one of the docents for the Fiberarts Guild… I so appreciate your thoughts on healing the wounds.
    Re: walnut ink… how do you fix it on the fabric, I’ve been doing a little dying with it, is it responsive to ironing? Thanks for being there.