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Photos by Giovanni Hänninen & Alberto Amoretti

THREAD CULTURAL CENTRE AND ARTIST'S RESIDENCY IN EASTERN SENEGAL.
A PROJECT BY

THE JOSEF AND ANNI ALBERS FOUNDATION AND NGO LE KORSA.

READ LOCKDOWN
STORIES BELOW

 

A look at the residencies that would have happened during the pandemic. This time with Maureen Nollette.

"I WOULD HAVE..."

Maureen Nollette

“Gathering, sharing, touching; these actions all seem foreign now. The pandemic has caused me to question everything.”  

Michigan based artist, Maureen Nollette, has spent the last 12 months at home with her partner and their children, in a family house that also functions as Maureen's art studio. Not only has the pandemic meant the cancellation of two exhibitions, it has made her view her work in a more political context and compelled her to question her own studio practice.

 

The pandemic has caused me to question everything. It has shone a white-hot spotlight on so many inequalities in society, and I’m asking myself: “What am I doing to change this? Is my studio activity having an impact, or should I do more?”

 

I was already investigating issues of gender inequality and unjust social constructs in my work - in particular by using materials that are often associated with women and crafts. Through process, pattern, and repetition I would investigate this arena using mass-produced goods traditionally associated with adornment or craft. But, because of the pandemic, I'm now becoming more vocal, more emboldened and more political. Whatever small stage I have, I want to use it to instigate change for the better.

 

I’m now working faster, on a smaller scale. I feel the need to work through ideas more rapidly, getting it all out there, then return and assess it. I had planned to show two large scale installations this year, which were developed in a slow and methodical manner, but that’s all been cancelled. I guess what I'm creating now is the polar opposite of those pieces.

 

At the moment, Maureen is working on a series of small, coloured drawings on the back of recycled sketchbooks. She teaches at the Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, where students  are presented with large pads of drawing paper every semester. Once the paper is gone, only the wire binding and chipboard are left. She rescues this chipboard from the recycling bin and uses it in her studio. 

I love the color, the weight, the texture, the fact that it acts as a supporting structure for something deemed more valuable. All of these things speak to me and what my work addresses.

 

Maureen likes to push definitions and boundaries in her studio practice and the format of Thread aligns well with that notion:

 

The line between art and craft has always drawn me in. When I applied over a year ago, I imagined creating work that involved weaving in some manner. I planned to explore the environment, using materials found locally to weave and/or transform them into planes of texture.

 

Experiencing how people in foreign lands navigate life on earth can't help but be transformative. Now that we're (hopefully) rounding the corner on this global pandemic, I am humbled and honoured to have the opportunity to learn about the culture and residents of Sinthian.

Maureen will have to wait until 2022 before she can come to Thread and is becoming more and more accustomed to the current work setting in the meantime.

 

My daily routine takes on renewed importance as the link to sanity. I'm attempting to embrace the situation, feeling extremely lucky to be healthy, employed, and enjoying the company of the few humans I have contact with.

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