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Creative Engagement with Maria Damon’s meshwards (Dusie, 2011)

meshwards. meshwards? Forward? Onward?           To mesh towards?

Maria Damon’s Dusie chap meshwards is a grouping of cross-stitch pieces with confessional statements regarding why they were made, below the images which appear in the book. As a reader, I was fascinated as I moved throughout the images and words attached. I will try to speak a bit in this engagement, to the ways that I see the language and the cross-stitch interacting, the quality that they make collaboratively when they are presented as a book.

One of the things that struck me in this sweet collection is the way that Damon speaks of inspiration inducing the pieces. I imagine that there would have to be jolt in the heart that would bring the body to that poise, the poise that stitches–that makes colorful symbols and statements out of what prior to the creation of the cross-stitches, was nothing. Feeling can do this, can’t it? Induce responses that last in some form. Are responses that last in some form, art?

Art or not, they certainly touch.

In one of the cross-stitch pieces in the beginning of the book Damon talks about the story that inspired it. “The story of a female bard, Mairi nighean Alisdair Ruaidh, who requested that after her death she be buried face down, so that her dirtfilled mouth would be stopped from uttering wickedness for eternity.” The stitchings show the following words: earth, art/face down, terror, torn. To me, this is a powerful place to have started the collection; thinking on silences and speakings of many kinds–thinking on the strange things that we know must be done in order for us to proceed well. For Mairi [] the need is to be buried face down. For Damon the need is to stitch these lyrical sequences into charged spaces that last, that remain.

In a different piece (and description of it), Damon explains that the particular cross-stitch being described is dedicated to “Iggy Pop” who Damon says “has a serious self-sabotaging streak but also a strong libidinized spirituality.” I appreciate that the visual/ visceral quality of this quilt differs from the one previously discussed. “There’s blood pouring down his chest and silver ejaculate radiating upwards,” Damon states. “I left the needle in the center to give him a choice.” How lovely to show the interpersonal aspects of interaction with another by way of the space of the cross-stitch.

The next of Damon’s cross-stitch that I want to mention, Damon refers to as “Spore-form.” This piece mentions Nada Gordon’s writing about memory when Barret Watten was her teacher.  “I’m having the hardest time getting you to understand what form is” Damon references as part of the above stated writing. Damon states that even though Damon wondered, the question about what form actually is, was never asked.


The cross stitch exhibited below is one composed in relation to someone’s passing. There is surely grief in it, but there is also the insistence of “radiant light.” It feels appropriate that Kafka’s statement: “the beautiful room is not empty” is here, holding space for the person who has died.

In reflecting on meshwards, I wonder about stitch as integration inducer; a different type of analysis not located in the neo cortex. Is that even possible? Cognizance outside of the neo cortex? Regardless of if a different type of processing and integration are possible I think that Damon utilizes/ embodies stitch as a way to keep the body moving by pressure and curve while information is being cohered.

There is something of a personal writerly and comrade-lineage present in these pieces too. Like small snapshots of Damon’s personal relations and realms are being confessed in ways that are not strictly textual but instead, texture and text. Damon works with feeling toward synthesis, by way of stitching, weaving, sewing. In my own read of the book I felt that this was done as a sort of radical guerilla approach to synthesis and confession.

The hands indelibly remain in the work, if they are a way that the work itself, came into form. Seaming then filling in a spectrum pierce by sultry pierce.


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