Francesca Lohmann

Embroidery and mold both occupy the domestic realm, but are polar opposites—the precious and the abject. They inhabit surfaces inside of the home, one embellishing and the other disintegrating.

Embroidery evolved from the process of mending worn cloth. The thread once used to reinforce fabric spread to the surface, covering it in dense decorative patterns. Carefully planned and executed, it was a slow labor of hands; an intimate, daily task.

A necessary part of decomposition in nature, the growth of mold is a dual process of fecundity and decay. It is a common and unwelcome presence in homes, forming on food or in the materials of the house itself. At the microscopic level, the individual elements and delicate, thread-like structures come into focus: decay is abstracted and reconfigured.

The “walls” project originated with the process of stripping moldy wallpaper off of the walls of an old Ballard house, revealing a century of layers. Far from their previous patterned banality, the rough, faded fragments still carry the memory of the familiar.

The installation is composed of shapes derived from the magnified cells of bread mold. The multitude of individual paper cutouts intrude on the bare surface of the wall, growing and spreading, their intricacy resembling that of embroidery. Hand-cut from the salvaged wallpaper and decorative papers, they are a labor of time.

“walls” symbolizes the creation of a domestic space (through the process of embellishing with embroidery) and its ongoing decay (through the relentless growth of mold). A shift in perception allows the abject to be seen, become the embellishment.

A home exists in a state of imperfect order. It requires daily upkeep, a careful resistance of mess and chaos. walls, floors and ceilings must be tended against the pervasive forces of disintegration, negotiating a fragile balance. There is beauty in the tension.

Francesca Lohmann
Agata Michalowska

July/August 2011