They've Tried to Tell You Who You Are

27 3Arts supporters
$5,662 raised of $5,000 goal
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Funded on May 12, 2021
    • 113% contributed

After months of working at home in quiet solitude, I am excited to share a new direction in my artistic practice that was born out of my love for drawing and a newfound realization of myself as a woman with a disability. They’ve Tried to Tell You Who You Are is an expanding series of stitched drawings and fiber sculptures that are made in a state of physical rest, with an appreciation for beauty in slow labor. When the pandemic started, I found myself unable to work in my studio in my usual manner, and, as a way to process my anxiety, I turned inward, began to work smaller and found joy and possibility in experimenting with soft, organic forms, both drawn and sculptural. This yearlong exploration has led to a new body of work and the opportunity to show it along with my larger paintings in a solo exhibition at the McCormick Gallery in Chicago in September 2021. This series is still in formation—over the next few months, I will continue to explore how the small works relate to each other and their connection to my painting practice. By supporting this campaign, you will have an opportunity to engage intimately with this work—through studio visits, acquiring a limited-edition drawing, and even directly contributing to a collaborative piece that will be part of the exhibition. Thank you for your support and I can’t wait to welcome you!

About This Project

As an artist working with a progressive muscular disability, I use painting as a way to explore the interconnectedness between body and mind. My paintings are often vibrant, explosions of color and gestural brushstrokes that sweep off the edge of the canvas. They are an attempt to capture energy and movement, an attempt to defy the limitations of my disability.

In the early days of quarantine, seeking reprieve from the restlessness and anxiety I was feeling, I started making small drawings on paper in the evenings. As I drew intuitively with colored pencils on translucent handmade paper, soft, organic forms emerged. I began stitching on top of the drawings—tiny, running stitches and dense, filled stitches. Very aware of the obvious connection to needlework as a traditional female activity of care and mending, I pushed away the need to analyze and focused only on making without judgement.

A year on, that drawing practice has expanded to include knitted, soft sculptures and embroidered, stitched fabric panels created with materials sourced from independent women-run shops and studios all over the world. I am in awe of natural dyes derived from plants such as marigold, indigo and pomegranate, harmonizing with and complementing each other. I knit small fabrics with yarn made from Ethiopian cotton, British wool, Indian silk, even stainless steel and paper, and stitch them together. Knitting on circular needles without a pattern, and randomly adding/ dropping stitches, I create soft sculptures that celebrate the imperfect color and texture of these handspun yarns.

These works are an expression of my bodymind as a woman living with a progressive disability. It has been a revelation to understand that body and mind are inter-connected and I don’t have to chase an ideal sense of balance between a slow-moving body and an active mind. Through slow labor and tactile materials, I experience both strength and loss–a sense of resilience and an acknowledgement of the inevitable loss of mobility. Stitch after stitch, scribble after scribble, marking time–grieving, yearning, celebrating, accepting.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Shoutout on social media ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Handmade thank-you card ($50.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Your mark on a piece in the show: contribute a word or phrase of your choice and I will incorporate it into one of the exhibited pieces ($100.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Your name hand-embroidered on Japanese handmade paper (4" x 6”) ($150.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    One original drawing (7" x 5”) signed by the artist (limited to 6) ($200.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    All of the above, plus a studio visit (virtual or in-person) ($600.00 is tax deductible.)

Pooja Pittie

Pooja Pittie is a visual artist based in Chicago. Born and raised in India, Pooja trained as an accountant and moved to the U.S. in 1999. She earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which …

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 Additional support provided by: 

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