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Artist's Statement

My earliest memories are of fabric. My mother was a seamstress, as were all of my aunts. I remember the texture of the yarn as it was pulled through my grandmother’s fingers; the musty smell of fabric piled in our basement; the colored threads that clung to my mother’s stockings. Embroidered tablecloths and crocheted bedspreads filled our Beirut home. Spools of thread were my building blocks and scraps of satin became doll clothes. I came to revere the art of sewing, embroidery, and quilt making, as these arts connected me through silent manifestation not just to my family but to the women of countless previous generations for whom this “women’s work” was the only form of artistic expression available.

Thus trained early on as a collector of bits and pieces, I continued collecting as an adult. I began to buy old books, postcards, handkerchiefs and buttons. When I pick up an old letter I am at once transfixed by its simple beauty and the mystery of its journey into my hands. The faded ink of a young girl’s cursive, the boldly beautiful strike of a postmark, all serve to reconstruct a shimmering narrative, at once arbitrary and intimate. The paper itself, with its browning edges touched by countless hands, is filled with secret history; its unknown path inherently narrative and endlessly inspiring.

I am inspired by the physicality of things- and the fragments of what is left behind.  As I layer these elements, the story they tell unfolds before me and the line between my own experience and that of these ghosts of long ago becomes blurred. The beauty of these discarded remnants of the past allows me to illustrate glimpses of a world grander than the sum of its parts.

Valerie Fanarjian