Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Facebook Twitter YouTube SoundCloud Instagram Tumblr Email list

Elizabeth Duffy ─ Unraveling: Suit with Lapel Pin

Trained in painting, drawing, jewelry, sculpture and textile conservation, Duffy is a versatile artist whose self-admitted "compulsive process and obsessive repetition" drive her. Her textile objects may be pointedly small-scale or extended as an installation patterning a whole space. Unraveling, unbraiding and otherwise unmaking currently absorb her curiosity and her practice. Here her subject is an unraveled lapel pin familiar from all politicians' suits. Duffy is based in Providence and teaches both on the college and graduate levels.

Artist's Statement

I create installations and objects that allude to the apparent comforts of home, to reveal its contradictions, pathos, and bewildering humor. The fragility of the outside world compels us to create refuge, but that refuge is porous and unstable. My installations explore this contradiction through making invented controllable worlds. Compulsive process and obsessive repetition are part of what makes me tick. I am fascinated by how things are made and how taking them apart reveals hidden worlds and the ingenuity of the human imagination. In my current project, "Wearing," I unravel the braided rugs common in old houses, and make them into what they may have been. These rugs, made from moth-eaten coats, worn blankets and clothing, reveal the tread of humanity going about their daily lives. I unbraid each rug, then press and sew the strips into cloth. The unbraiding reveals a myriad hidden patterns and exuberant hues. Lines of dotted holes indicate the years of tread marks eroding the fabric. Leopard-like spots of dirt pressed into the exposed parts of the rugs reveal human movement through time. The process of making these is something like an excavation, uncovering what the rugs hide in between the braids, while admiring the craft and labor of each anonymous maker. I keep part of the original rug attached to the object, to allude to the cyclical nature of materials and shifting boundaries of the objects.

Unraveling: Suit with Lapel Pin - Detail, Flag

Elizabeth Duffy
Unraveling: Suit with Lapel Pin (Detail, Flag), 2020
Photo collage mounted on Hahnemühle Photo Rag
17 1/2 x 14
Photo credit: Elizabeth Duffy

Unraveling: Suit with Lapel Pin - Detail, Lapel

Elizabeth Duffy
Unraveling: Suit with Lapel Pin, 2020
Photo collage mounted on Hahnemühle Photo Rag
17 1/2 x 14
Photo credit: Elizabeth Duffy

Statement on Unraveling: Suit with Lapel Pin, 2020

In Unraveling: Suit with Lapel Pin I took apart the lapel pin worn by politicians on both sides of the aisle. This is part of a group of works I make called "Unraveling," where I disassemble symbols of corporate culture, to question their unmitigated power and corrosive effects. Banks that fund private prisons & criminal enterprises, corporations that accelerate climate change through their investment in coal, and symbols of corporate surveillance are part of this project. I printed the image of the waving banner onto fabric and then pulled the weft threads through the warp, allowing the weft threads to fall, disturbing the grid of the fabric and blurring the image. I then collaged the pulled fabric onto a suit lapel. Anxiety, fear and outrage over the offenses and hypocrisies of our governing bodies made this work. The lapel pin is a superficial shorthand for loyalty and patriotism (its absence has just as much meaning as its presence), but what does that mean at this moment when so many are disenfranchised and equity feels remote? I was inspired to make this after listening to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ conflicted feelings about her father’s flagpole in The 1619 Project podcast : The Fight for a New Democracy. She came to see his gesture of flying his pristine flag in their front yard as a sign of inclusivity and hope. A work that is in a constant state of unraveling and being remade.


Elizabeth Duffy

Elizabeth Duffy with her Maximum Security quilt
Photo credit: Michael Duffy

 

Biographical Statement

Elizabeth Duffy has exhibited her work widely. Venues include the Drawing Center, Wave Hill, and White Columns (all New York), The RISD Museum (Providence, Rhode Island), the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, Connecticut), and DM Contemporary (Long Island, New York). She has held residencies at the Bogliasco Foundation in Italy, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, MacDowell, Yaddo, the Sirius Art Centre in Cobh, Ireland, VCCA, and Ucross. Duffy is the recipient of awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, where she was awarded grants in both Sculpture and Craft in 2018. Her work has been written about in The New York TimesArt NewsArt on Paper, the Boston Globe, the Village Voice, and many other publications. Duffy received her MFA from CUNY/Brooklyn College and her BA at Rutgers College. She studied textile conservation at FIT, jewelry at the School of Visual Arts and painting, drawing and sculpture at the New York Studio School. She lives and works in Providence and teaches in the Art Department at Roger Williams University and in the Graduate Program at Vermont College of Fine Art. 

www.elizabethduffy.net

< back to gallery