When we say goodbye to the things we once loved, we face feelings of loneliness and nostalgia. Artist Caitlin McCormack experienced these feelings when her grandparents passed away, and she found comfort in crochet, a family tradition: “My grandmother was a very talented crocheter, and my grandfather was an exceptionally-skilled bird carver. Something about the receptive process of crocheting seemed to help me to cope with their absence.” McCormack’s delicate crocheted designs of animal skeletons come from death, but she uses them to reconstruct memories from life.
Caitlin McCormack’s latest series, currently on view at Antler Gallery in Portland, focuses heavily on the changeable nature of memory. It is an theme that she has explored previously, and when we first featured her work, she explained: “I am drawn towards a vacuous well of recollection, in which the fibers connecting a network of truths and fabrications fade in and out of darkness, at the bottom of which resides a glimpse of memory’s mass extinction.”
Animals like birds and bats are at first drawn from real specimens, but then transformed into surreal creations, forming multiple wings and appendages. “I usually tear myself away from the reference source after completing a few drawings, and render a form from memory, in order to depart from the creature’s structural authenticity. That’s when I let my own visual biases and the inconsistencies of my memory take hold.”
“The act of stiffening intricately crocheted cotton string with glue produces material that is structurally similar to delicate bone tissue,” McCormack says. “The string implemented in this process can be viewed as the basic cellular unit of fabrication, and by utilizing media and practices inherited from my deceased relatives, I aim to generate emblems of my diminishing bloodline, embodied by each organism’s skeletal remains.”