Maggie Sasso’s Artist Statement

In my practice, I examine the systems through which we identify meaning in our culture, observing the ways we regularly ritualize our behaviors, and make artifacts out of our objects. History is imbedded in everything: by analyzing and interpreting the history manifest in our surroundings, we maintain a strong connection to our material culture. I present the balance between difficult tragedy and humorous optimism and regard ordinary stories from Midwestern characters as sacred legend. My installations are tactile and penetrable, presenting objects as theatrical props and material relics, and inviting us to simultaneously explore the past and consider our collective future.

For the Points of Departure exhibition, I chose to respond to neck-cloth, most likely a piece of fraternal order regalia. The color pallet, grandeur and theatrics of the presumed ceremony for which it was used intrigue me. Since seeing an exhibition of Odd Fellow artifacts at the Milwaukee Art Museum I have fetishized this type of organization, without knowing much about its purpose or history. In a response to neck-cloth, I am exploring a parallel between the Odd Fellows and the Jane Collective: an underground network of women providing illegal abortions from 1969-1971 in Chicago, IL.

Utilizing the material language of textiles, a craft passed down through matrilineal heritage, and the theatrical ritualism of the Odd Fellows, this installation explores the Jane’s sacred clandestine sisterhood. It’s a pastiche, a re-interpretation, a re-casting, a wish for the future.