Joyce Watkins King
raleigh, north carolina
Familial Threads: Memory and Loss
2017, Mono-printed shirt collars on paper, thread
Courtesy of the artist
I grew up as a child of the South and a descendant
of Eli Whitney in the small town of Oxford, NC with a mom who sewed my clothes as did her mother before her. Learning to sew while I was in middle school was my introduction to soft sculpture, though I did not realize it until I was studying at the NC State University College of Design many years later.
As a lifelong artist and designer, I have worked in many media during my career but returned to my roots in ber, fabric, and sewing in 2005 during an artist’s residency at Vermont Studio Center. For me, textiles are part of a universal language that cuts across all cultures, providing beauty, utility, and symbols for special occasions: births, initiations and celebrations. Fabric itself is a metaphor for how many separate strands (fragile thread or yarn) are fashioned together to make something strong, lasting and beautiful.
In opposition to the escalating trend of consuming and rapidly disposing of cheaply made clothing without consideration for the devastating e ects on ber growers, laborers, consumers, and especially the environment, in my most recent body of work I reuse garments, fabric, and thread whenever possible.