This is a body of work I made and installed in a 6 week timeframe for an exhibition at The Walters Art Museum. It was all new work and part of a continuing series predominantly focused on using the collection of stuff my family has accumulated and subsequently left in my care over the past 200 years.
The title of each of the works in "follmers fourth defluxion" is derived from passages in books that have been entrusted to me, each having been written in by its owners, my ancestors.
Arthur's New Juvenile Library, Maggy's Baby, 1852, first belonged to Alfred
The Golden Gift , A Wreath of Gems, 1849 first belonged to Mary
Who is My Neighbor, or The Wilson Family, 1852 first belonged to Alfred
Pictures for Our Darlings, 1876, first belonged to Willie
Philadelphia Cookbook, A Manual of Home Economies 1886, first belonged to Mary
The Poetical Works of Robert Burns, 1883, first belonged to Aunt Edith
The School Dictionary; or Expositor of the English Language, 1812 first belonged to Elizabeth
Truth is subjective and I have uncovered a future tale of what this stuff can mean. I hope as I continue to understand how to make room for history and my own genetic predisposition to possession while I make work that consumes the underwhelming historical artifacts my family painstakingly preserved to keep itself remembered I am honoring it.
Investigating the ordinary, or an indefatigable search for comfort.
follmers fourth defluxion is a story, an installation, my collective unconscious past and an opportunity to delve into the way I investigate before and find room for it in my next.
title:“You see before you.” said the old man to him, “ the Way of Life and the Road to Destruction. Choose, now, which you will walk in.”
5 knives steel & bone,
great grandfather William N Watson's chicken cup,
Portrait of Curtis Bruce Watson, my great great grandfather, (b 1839 d 1872),
Portrait of Mary Nagle Watson, my great great grandmother, (b 1842 d 1929),
silver plated fork 1866- a wedding gift MEW, that was rather chewed ( the other 5 are currently in use at the Watson/Vose household, 4 steel & bone forks, the copy of the list 1862,
great great grandmother Watson's 11 linen luncheon napkins 1866 given for her wedding - used by me often - 1 ruined by HE washing machine 2013.
spiny lacy antimacassar handmade,
The Feather Stitched “W” (red),
great great grandparents ledgers 1860-1880 don't you wish you could read them?,
great grandfather's winning pullet cup 1912,
great grandmother Mary Louise Bastress's napkin ring ( b 1867 d 1947),
Wilhelm Friedrich Nagle's chair 1820,
My great great great great grandfather's mother of pearl cane topper circa 1820, tassel,
receipts for moving c 1860,
fabric, polyfill, thread, steel, vinyl, gimp, magic, jute strapping, staples, glue, hardware
size of the wall construction : 120” x 245”x 70” variable
title: The Pudding of Long Ago
great great grandfather Bastress' (b 1838 d 1915) trunk, BBW's Army Uniforms wool 1919, silk day dress worn by great great grandmother Watson 1866, great great grandfather's velvet wedding vests 1866,
3 of my grandfather's cotton shirts 1948, 5 of my father's Korean War era US Lieutenant uniforms, my high school graduation dress 1986, CB's gold & enamel cuff links, various bonnets, silks, gloves, lace, bloomers, and other random stuff circa 1870, vinyl, leather, thread, tassels, casters
size 30" x 30" x 50"
title: “Set a chair, Jenny, for the gentlemen” said she to the child.
the valuable walnut chair from Milton that my grandmother( b 1892, d 1991) gave to me six times between 1982 and 1985,
ratcheting straps, steel, fabric, polyfill, vinyl, gimp, bedazzlings, tacks
15 feet 11 feet 11 feet approximately
title: Has your gran-ma's pock-et Bunch o' keys and mo-ney? Spool o' thread and thim-ble? Can-dy made o' ho-ney?
EZ teether rubber 1931, vinyl, tassel, thread
Willie's toddler glass 1868
Watson family chair parts circa 1880
horn mustache comb circa 1850
an important shooter 1895, glass
eyebrow comb circa 1880
civil war hymn book book that weathered the 1889 flood
Altered photographs of my great grandparents, great uncle, and great great uncle, great great grandparents, 23karat gold leaf
book given to Mary E Nagle in 1852, then annotated for young ladies 1922 by her before she died
dirt from 1300 20th Ave, gathered, 1986, 23 karat gold
casters from family furniture that I might still own
Photographs of the family furniture I have deconstructed and some that were saved from the axe
oh and my great grandfather's saw i used to cut up the chairs
and a few other things I've not yet described here but you may just want to look for
144" x 252" x 160" variable
title: SIR, oe'r a gill I gat your card
parts of the Nagle leather trunk from 1876 I cherished, correspondence between family members 1862-1978, random legal documents that I am keeping safe for something, for now, vinyl, gimp, polyfil, glue, thread
24" x 22" x 22"
title: Turn it over, and see how comical it looks; everything appears to have lost its gravity.
My great, great, great, grandfather's chair with writing on the bottom "Nagle 184-",
paint made from burning one of my great, great grandfather's chairs along with ancestral letters, receipts & documents
acrylic matte medium, steel, felt, hardware
wall painted with paint made from burned chair and letters is 144" x 112", wooden chair is about the size of an upside down chair at a jaunty angle
title: The little knot of which he was the head and front, wherein he was supreme
My great great grandfather's bow-tie 1871,
my great great great grandmother's mirror 1852,
fabric from the wedding dresses of grandmother 1926, my great, great, grandmother 1866, Me 1999,
steel, poly-fil, thread, vinyl, tassels, hardware
33" x 5" x 65"
you can see the bowtie on your neck in the hand mirror, but you cannot see your face.
As to the addition of mirror, I felt this was a way to place yourself within the timeline of the work. Either you look in the mirror as just a mirror, check your teeth and miss the point, or you find the object that relates to the time and you connect with that, and then you no longer can see yourself in the mirror and only see the object "worn" on you.
my bio if you wish to read it...
Stewart Watson was born in Pennsylvania in 1968. She received her BFA in sculpture from the Pennsylvania State University in 1991. For the two years after graduation, she worked and traveled in Greece, Egypt, Kenya, and throughout East and Southeast Asia, returning to the United States, choosing Baltimore as her home. She returned to school in 2007 to The University of Maryland where she became a first time parent, was an Anne Truitt Scholar, Daniel Nicholson Olkhe Award winner, a teacher, and received her MFA in 2010.
She has received individual artist grants from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2011, 2007, and 2001, two 2016 individual artist grants from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, a 2016-2017 grant from Alexandria Office of Arts, Alexandria, VA, and is the winner of the 2010 Sadat Art for Peace Prize. Recent exhibitions include the 2014 Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize Finalists at The Walters Art Museum, Marian Boesky Gallery, (New York, NY), UNCP A.D. Gallery, (Pembroke, NC), and solo exhibitions at The Contemporary, (Baltimore, MD) and McDaniel College, (Westminster, MD), artist panels at the Kreeger Museum and The Baltimore Museum of Art and a residency at the Digital Fabrication Residency (Easton, MD). She teaches at The Maryland Institute College of Art.
Her work has been featured in publications including the inaugural print magazine BmoreArt a Journal of Art + Ideas (2015), Baltimore Magazine ( October 2016), OutPost Journal (2012), Citypaper, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and blogs ArtFCity, BmoreArt and HaHa Magazine.
Watson is an artist, a parent, a partner, a curator, an educator, a volunteer, and community advocate, serving on several regional boards and organizations. She is the Executive Director and curator of AREA 405, a 7000 square foot exhibition and event space she co-founded in 2003. She is co-owner, founder, and president of Oliver Street Studios, established in 2002, a 66,000 square foot warehouse in the heart of Baltimore City. Oliver Street Studios has grown from a vacant building into an artistic and community anchor for the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. It now serves as studios for 45 artists, a gallery, a tool library, and home to Watson, her artist husband, their dogs, cat, and son.
The degeneration of Watson's spine has lead to years of surgeries, procedures, metal rods, chronic pain and a perpetual longing for relief. This genetic quirk or hereditary flaw could be a repercussion of family possessions and the weight of obsession leading to the need to balance, lift, prop, strap, truss, buffer, embellish, stuff, cushion and pad objects and spaces - ever searching for that perfect place to settle.
Through luxurious fabrics, chosen to evoke the perception of a well-appointed living rooms and the memories rarely enjoyed, Watson manifests the uncomfortable perfection of the nineteenth century lifestyle through remnants of her kin's obsession with the past. Drawn into anonymous portraiture and reliquaries that immortalize and elevate the relationships she has with deceased members of her family, elevated to levels of tumultuous reverence. With over two centuries of objects that have been kept in boxes and passed down without regard for usefulness or beauty yet marked with names and dates and data only for posterity’s sake, the value has been affixed and the value has been bestowed from the family connection rather than practicality, market worth, or even demand from existing family members as there are few left to fight over the mountainous remains.
Her family furnishings and preserved relics have been kept as vital artifacts that inform her as she researches the generations of genealogical data and grapples with ancestral acquaintances and the contemporary conundrum of acquisition through each new work she makes. Now, nostalgia, humor and this delicate interdependence are critical aspects of what she makes and through which, she consumes her own history.