Vintage Photo Project: Rebecca Siemering

Vintage Photo Project: Rebecca Siemering

Rebecca Siemering Star Light Cape

Star Light Cape, 2013; photos, vintage thread and cotton fabric; 24 x 10 x 0.5 in.; Photo by Erik Gould

Our Vintage Photo Project continues today with a piece by installation artist, arts administrator, and curator, Rebecca Siemering of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. You can find out more about her recycled paper work below. It's also in Fidelity Investments' collection and has been part of travelling shows with the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum, the Fuller Craft Museum, and Fiber Art International. Here's what she had to say about working with her vintage photos from us:

What do you make?
My essential question for any of my work is an allegory of “wanting the good life.” If we do not have what we want, then how can it be made with what we have? In 2005, I started to pick up discarded scratch tickets on the walk home from work. Beautiful litter, I could not let it sit and float away. It made a hopeful noise in my hands, the coin rub on paper. How sad it must have been to lose for the original buyer, the dreams in the moment of scratching the image away. ‪I thought, “Let’s make something better with this mound of paper, and shake all of the bad luck away.” I began to make animistic textile pieces and tapestries from them. A methodical, yet compulsive style of stitch and needlework developed and reflects the original obsession-to rise above the mundane, the sculpture embodying a desire that exists apart from the article of ink and pulp.

Why did you want to participate in the Vintage Photo Project?
I have always been interested in paper of all forms and especially ephemera from our lives. This was a chance to work with a different kind of printed matter, and learn from the process of transforming it. I normally hand cut paper with scissors and Exacto knives, but the photos tore easily. I found a few punches that made cleaner and crisp cuts, which I might use for another project now.

How did you use your vintage photos?
I kept thinking about the common thread across all of the photos. I did not know all of the artists, but to be in this archive, they must have been stars of this time. It’s what an artist wishes for: that tiny piece of recognition in the universe of creating. Then all of those stars make up a larger pantheon that inspires everyone else on and on. I call it Star Light Cape.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I read a lot of myths and fairytales, especially now that I have a little girl.

What is your favourite/most read art, craft or design book?
Lately it is Helen Joseph-Armstong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design. I took a patternmaking class at the Rhode Island School of Design last summer, and have a better sense of how to make my own patterns for art and myself. I also love pouring through all of Natalie Channin’s books and her blog. I often look at Kiki Smith’s catalog from her show at the Whitney a few years ago. I love how she uses so many materials and explores their qualities.

The Vintage Photo Project is a participatory challenge in which duplicate copies of vintage photos from the American Craft Council Library's archives have been transformed and re-imagined in myriad ways. View more Vintage Photo Projects.