A little over a year later and this is where I am with the Martin Cross project. It's taken much longer than I thought it would. The problem is that the work is so detailed and the grid so tight that in order to save my eyes I'm only able to do a little bit at a time. Still, I'm committed to the project no matter how long it takes.
February 19, 2018 @ 5:46 pm
The last stitch of the project was put in. The linen has been washed and dried. Now it's time to frame the piece...and write the book.
It's been two years since I've given an update on this project, which has taken much longer that I ever anticipated. Life got in the way. Plus, my eyes have taken a toll with this projects because the weave of the linen is so tight. I am almost finished, though.
I've also begun to write a small book on this project that interlaces the writings and paintings of Agnes Martin, criticism of her work, and my personal experience with this cross-stitch project.
writer, artist, scholar, cultural critic, queer theorist
A. W. Barnes
The first time that I saw an Agnes Martin painting was at the Dia Beacon in Beacon, NY. I was immediately attracted to her work because of its intense symmetry and its deceptive simplicity. Arne Glimcher's book, Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances, also appealed to me because in addition to the body of paintings he documents, he also includes many of her writings, calculations and letters.
When I was a teenager, I began cross-stitching because it was a creative outlet that I could easily master, it involved a regularity and order that helped to calm my too-busy mind, and because it was an activity that allowed me to be alone in a household overfilled with people.
In this project, The Martin Cross, I decided to combine my attraction to the paintings of Agnes Martin, and my long-lost enthusiasm for cross stitching.
Using the untitled Martin painting that is on the cover of the Glimcher book, I calculated and mapped out the size, shape, and method of recreating her painting in cross-stitch. The project will consists of around 55,000 stitches, with 74 double rows and 12 columns, roughly the size of the Martin painting.
As the detail of the painting on the right shows, at the end of each blue bar, Martin scrawled a carat. For my project, I use these carats to inscribe a text from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Rather than using English or Latin to write out the Ovidian tale, I've translated each letter into semaphore, which more closely resembles the two-stroke marks in the Martin painting.