Graduate Alumni > Advanced Fiber Studio (Highlights)

Sarah Wert (Fall 2008 and Spring 2009)
Sarah Wert (Fall 2008 and Spring 2009)

My family is fond of practical jokes. Inflicting feelings of abandonment, neglect and rejection are essential when orchestrating these ironic pranks. Therefore, it was not surprising or out of the ordinary when they left me, the 8 year old, at a prairie dog town while on our vacation to South Dakota.

It was a beautiful day and we were exploring the Wild West in our brown van that we had named Sheila, when we decided to stop at a prairie dog town. As these adorable and wonderfully social creatures were popping up from their holes, I wondered what kind of civilization they maintained beneath our feet. It was time to go and I was reluctant. I wanted to further investigate their subterranean habitat. One minute I was peering down one of the holes and the next I saw dust blowing up from behind Shelia as she drove away. They were leaving me! This was to be my new home! I would assimilate into the prairie dogs way of life, much like Tarzan.

In my series, Results of a Practical Joke, I retell the story of my pseudo abandonment at a prairie dog town. The story is narrated to the viewer through books, a fictitious map, and prairie dog mounds/ holes composed of quilts and tunnel book structures.

I preserve memories from my life for which there is no material evidence by recording them in quilts, books and sculptures. My intent is to make my family’s oral history exist and endure in the material world. I am intrigued by oral traditions, including legends and tall tales, because of their tendency to embellish upon the facts when recording history, making the stories flashier, more exciting, more significant and symbolic of collective identity. Echoing this tendency I add a layer of whimsical embellishment and exaggeration to all of my art works.