Note: In January, Stephanie Berrie was awarded Tiger Lily Press’s Working Artist residency for 2020. She is Senior Lab Associate for the Printmaking Lab and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Cincinnati. We checked in with her again to see how and what she is doing during the pandemic shut down. (For more information about the residency program, go here.)
It would be an understatement to say that the past few months in our country and world have been unsettling and tumultuous. With the Black Lives Matter protests following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, and the rapidly increasing cases and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m left wondering where my place is in the world and how I can change myself to be better to those around me. These past few months have been a time of self-improvement, self-education, and listening so I can better serve those who have fought so hard to have equal rights and opportunities.
Since April, I’ve been spending most of my time screen printing, dyeing fabric in my apartment, and constructing mini installations of plush, fabric sculptures. I feel a strong sense of escapism now (like I’m sure most of us do), and I wanted to create work that is intriguing, playful, and fun to help ease the pain that is currently happening worldwide. Each “plushie” starts with a pattern that is screen printed on felt. I then cut and sew the printed felt by machine and hand to create a bulbous, plant-like form. These past few months have been an experimentation for me- experimenting with the different shapes, sizes, and colors these plushies can take. Some plushies are large and rotund, like avocado pits, and some are small with delicate embroidered petals. At some point, it’s my goal to create an immersive installation with them, so the viewers can escape into this bodily, alien-esque fantasy land to maybe help them forget about the world’s tribulations for a little while. As of now, I’ve been taking my plushies and hanging them around the woods outside of my apartment complex to help cultivate the idea of blurring fantasy with reality.
I think it’s important to remember to be kind and considerate of each other and to treat one another with decency and respect. Change is never easy, and I’m hoping that as a nation we can make the much-needed change that has been a long time waiting. In the meantime, I am doing my part to listen and be there to help facilitate this change in the best way I can.
— Stephanie Berrie, June 2020