She brings flat affect and flat materiality into the storefront.
She brings in spools of yarn that are made of silvery, plastic industrial waste leftovers for knotting and knitting.
She brings in splatter-painted, mat-finished canvas for carving out ancient bird-like creatures to hang in the window as a shadowy effect.
She brings in bags of discarded clothing for collective wearing and sharing, recirculating the not-yet-dead fibers.
She brings in stuff.
The ineffability of the materials placed in her hands, as she knots, threads and tears, creates openings for her to be made by and made with her materials (Bennett, 2010; Ingold, 2013). Listening to the materials as a riddle, she plunks herself down in a chair with a cup of tea, figuring, “threading, felting, tangling, tracking, and sorting,” making fabulations, making worlds, and making stories (Haraway, 2016, p. 31).
She is in a mode of making that anthropologist, Tim Ingold (2013) calls an alchemical process where the “experienced practitioner with knowledge of the properties of her materials,” senses what is possible, and uses knowledge made “out of a lifetime of intimate gestural and sensory engagement in a particular craft” (p. 29). Potential in this case, leaves a palatable and physical trace, trailing along the floor as a silky blue spool of yarn waiting to be taken up.
She belongs to a we-that-makes together. The ‘We’ is made up of a collection of public school art teachers who inhabit a storefront in a northwest neighborhood in Chicago. Here, a city block of storefronts was acquired as part of eminent domain two and half years ago by a local university. Now, frozen buildings stand in a city block, glossed over with a vellum coating in each storefront window, arresting time and development. Nothing is happening and yet, something is being made and lived inside 3412 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Teachers in our collective find they are being asked to “do more and cost less.” The sense of fatigue and demoralization is felt most palatably as teachers come into this space yearning for a social latch and place of release. Doing nothing at the storefront is a radical gesture.