Black tally mark quilt (detail). Crochet thread on muslin, approximately 75,000 hand stitched tally marks. 72”x 72”

Black tally mark quilt (detail). Crochet thread on muslin, approximately 75,000 hand stitched tally marks. 72”x 72”

Black tally mark quilt. Crochet thread on muslin, approximately 75,000 hand stitched tally marks. 72”x 72”

Black tally mark quilt. Crochet thread on muslin, approximately 75,000 hand stitched tally marks. 72”x 72”

White tally mark quilt. Crochet thread on white muslin, approximately 75,000 hand stitched tally marks, 72”x 72”

White tally mark quilt. Crochet thread on white muslin, approximately 75,000 hand stitched tally marks, 72”x 72”

A note about the quilts:

In 2015, I began to stitch rows of tally marks on white muslin in an embroidery hoop. One square foot would take me about 15 hours and usually have over 2,000 stitches on it. This strangely became somewhat of a self-imposed addiction, and ultimately (after 11 months) turned into a six foot square quilt. I would stitch pretty much wherever I was. This would often lead to interesting discussions with people encountering me (usually my high school students). These conversations could go in many directions, and I found it was a great way to skip the small talk and instead delve into their own connections to subjects such as accumulation, discipleship, meditation, scriptures, religion, therapy, eternity, infinity, confinement, prison, endurance, and art. I value these interactions that arose through the process of making this quilt just as much as the final product itself.

In 2017, perhaps because of my ‘stitching’ addiction, I felt like I should make a companion quilt of the same size, and it made sense that it be black on black. During this time, my father’s leukemia turned acute while I was working on the black quilt. He was hospitalized for over two months, where I spent a lot of time stitching next to him. The black quilt somehow felt like a verdict, or an exhaustive resolution of the many ideas and conversations that emerged from my experiences of making both of these quilts.

I consider these works as informal social performances. The repetitive action of stitching tally marks (often in public) accounts for a sustained amount of time and focused energy in a quiet and methodical process. These performances accumulated in a collection of registered attention and will, which ultimately formed these objects meant to offer comfort.