Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.
The carriage held but just ourselves
~ Emily Dickinson
This collaborative crochet work stems from two ideas about time:
The first is an observation made from the vantage point of 40 of how swiftly time passes compared to the way it seems to move for my 20-year old students. The difference convinces me of something I read once but didn’t understand until undertaking this work—that our lives, at the age of 21, are conceptually half over.
The second idea, possibly a salve for the first, is a belief that our experience of life, as we age, should increase in novelty.
Beginning with the simple increment of one stitch for each day, and working at a rate of increase that allows the shape to lie more-or-less flat, each piece in Because I Could Not Stop maps the human experience of one life. Each map is a partnership in which I crochet another person’s life as they tell it to me. Age is not the only factor affecting each shape. The collaborator whose life is depicted makes material choices about how they wish to characterize their life, assigning a particular syntax of colour or stitch type to factors such as geography, relationships, vocation, or epochs. There is no limit to the number of factors one life map can depict and each piece represents a unique negotiation between the life lived and my attempt to crochet it.
The resulting map becomes a kind of tool for observing one’s experience of life. In what kind of spaces have I spent the most time? How greatly has love and desire impacted my decisions? On what ideals have I placed the most value? Each piece is a window and a mirror.
Because I Could Not Stop is a material embodiment of my ideas about time. 365 stitches in the centre of the map make a stronger visual impact than at the outer edges, and sure enough, it is in the late 20s when the circumference of the shape exceeds 365 stitches. Though all the maps in this series share the same basic math, they are portraits as individual as my many collaborators.
This project will evolve as the works travel and I meet new people who tell new stories and ask new questions about themselves.