My name is Sarah George-Waterfield and I am a PhD student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Book reader, fabric lover, menagerie mother, sporadic gardener, wine drinker, story-teller, cocktail mixer.
Working with paper-made-textile and written-on fabric, I create pieces that poke at the boundaries between text and textile, writing and speaking, mind and body, citizen and immigrant, center and margin. A new artist and doctoral candidate in English at UNC-Chapel Hill, my art interrogates the relationship between narrative, memory, and textile work in contemporary novels through sculpture, garment creation, and textile collage. Blurring the distinction between text/iles by weaving with paper-based yarn or salvaging the seams from discarded fast fashion, I reconfigure narratives of women who live aslant of and needle a capitalist, patriarchal system by reclaiming the labor of “women’s work.” I combine austere paper and vibrant fabric in playful and unexpected ways—Is this the front or the back? Can I really wear that? Whose voice is speaking now?—to convey the ways that memory and narrative reside in the warp and the weft, in the feel of the fabric on the fingers, in the taste of string in the mouth.
My work takes a variety of forms—from a skirt made of softened paper to a tapestry made from woven shreds of a novel and fabric. By layering reused and rescued materials, I build a palimpsest of text and textile, disassembling and reassembling functional objects we take for granted in ways that bring to light forgotten labor and unheard stories. The literary narratives that I consider freely wander through the liberating possibilities of making and the horror of the sweatshop and everything in between. Through my art, I highlight these nuances, but ultimately focus on the intimacy available through fabric and stories. Currently working with the narratives of Daisy Hernandez, Jean Kwok, and Ntozake Shange, I combine paper and fabric, hand and machine stitching, wearables and readables, to materialize their negotiations of gender, generation, and nation.
A native Midwesterner, Sarah George-Waterfield has been circling her way to Chapel Hill. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, she joined the Peace Corps and served in Mali—an experience that sparked a love of textiles and those who work with them. She has since completed a master’s degree in English from Southern Illinois University. Currently a doctoral candidate in English at UNC-Chapel Hill, her research focuses on the relationship between narrative, memory, and textile work in contemporary novels. Her artistic work is ultimately a part of her dissertation project, and conveys the ways that memory and narrative reside in the warp and the weft, in the feel of the fabric on the fingers, in the taste of string in the mouth. She lives and works in Hillsborough, NC, and you can follow her alternative dissertation process at fabricthinking.wordpress.com.