Hold the front page! I've just been finding out about an American artist, J. Morgan Puett. I am in a little funk of excitement. I had not heard of her before and now I don't know why! Her vision is singularly focused and currently extremely pertinent. This passage from her artists' statement is extraordinary and inspiring to me:
"My career and trajectory as an artist/cultural worker was shaped and determined very early. In 1984 I was attempting to research detailed aspects of working people's clothing from 1900-1930 in the costume archives of the Metropolitan Museum, and I was told that no specimens of these clothes survived. The actual reason for this was a shock to me—the clothes had been worn to dust, altered, patched, turned into quilts, chair backs, and curtains, passed down, and eventually used as rags. It was the fact that everything that was part of early vernacular culture was constantly being re-used, re-shaped, and re-worked—in a continuous act of invention that permanently shaped my practice. Categories shifted—clothing became furniture became architecture and vice versa—this changed my thinking about material culture and the inherent fluid nature of things. I realized that these histories and practices needed to not only be preserved and represented in museums but also activated in contemporary public life. At this moment I realized that I had to find a way to reconstruct historical practices and networks - making products and systems that could activate all the categories of everyday life. Art alone, I found, is singularly lacking in the tools to do this. I strategically came to situate myself at the nexus of art,architecture and principally in the world of fashion".
In the last 10 years, J. Morgan Puett has been working with her ex-partner to establish an artists' colony at her home in Noth East Pennsylvania. Called Mildred's Lane after the former occupant of the 96 acre farmstead, Mildred Miller. The project provides a space where artists, interns and other folk can come to 'locate their own creativity' in this living, breathing, vernacular installation.
Here's a lovely article from 2008 about the artist and Mildred's Lane.
Here's a link to the the artist's gallery, Alexander Grey Associates.