Inherited Ground

Granary Arts, Ephraim, Utah

She Knew People Would think Her Frivolous, hibiscus, pectin, thread, vinyl, soil, 30″x 14″, 2020

Silhouette, gauze, acrylic, hangers, 62″ x 40″, 2020

Knew They Would/Knew You Would Come, cotton, ink, cedar wood, hanger, Sarah Pea DeArmon Rich journal entries 1814-1893, 2020, approximately 8′, 2020

Stepping Up, cotton/poly blend, Kool-Ade, hibiscus, hangers, 92″ x 30″, 2019

The Burnt Edge, gauze, wax, hanger, ash, approximately 7′, 2020

Intertwined, cotton/poly blend, hibiscus, Kool-Ade, salt, hangers, 52″ x 20″, 2019

Pushing Against, fabric, plaster, hangers, 67″ x 18″, 2019

Entanglement, cotton/poly blend, turmeric, rabbit brush, hangers, varies in size, 2019

Tied, cotton, Kool-Ade, hibiscus, hangers, 65″ x 90″, 2019

Catalog foreward by Daniel Gerwin

A simple dress on a clothes hanger has been dipped in plaster and arranged to undulate down the wall. Instead of ending at knee or ankle length, the dress transforms into a similar, smaller dress, on a hanger but upside down, neck and shoulders curving away from the floor in defiance of gravity. The dresses are proxies for bodies that would inhabit them. Titled “Pushing Against” (2019), this work portrays a mother and daughter connected by an umbilical cord of fabric, two overlapping identities. The bilateral symmetry of the dresses, mother’s head up and child’s head down, is the birth position. The child emerges headfirst, a separate being not yet separated from the mother’s body (individuation can be a life-long process). A video projects onto the dresses: a hand wielding an iron futilely tries to smooth the plastered fabric, evoking the hopeless desire to be a perfect parent. If only we could remove the wrinkles from family life.

Lindsay’s ouevre includes a number of works with linked dresses, all speaking to mother-daughter dynamics. The Western art historical canon includes far too few representations of parenthood in its nuance and complexity. The archetype of the artist is a shaman, an enfant terrible, never a devoted parent who changes diapers and gets the kids to bed on time. Artists themselves have reinforced this taboo against parenthood. In one infamous example, noted performance artist Marina Abromovic said in a 2016 interview with the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, “I had three abortions because I was certain that it would be a disaster for my work. One only has limited energy in the body, and I would have had to divide it.”

Compare Lindsay’s melded dresses to Abromovic’s iconic photograph “Relation in Time (With Ulay)” (1977), which shows Abromovic and Ulay facing away from each other in profile, their hair seamlessly intertwined to resemble a cable connecting their brains. Like Lindsay’s mother-daughter pairs, they are united, but in the mode of new lovers for whom the outside world drops away. Though their back-to-back pose implies trouble in paradise, Abromovic and Ulay are nonetheless inseparable. The solipsism that naturally accompanies passionate romance suffuses this image and stands in stark contrast to what is implied by the expansive attitude of Lindsay’s work. Lindsay’s conjoined dresses speak to the power of matriarchal lines, the generosity of pregnancy, labor, and birth, and the devotion required in parenting.

Lindsay’s art presents a counterargument to Abromovic and our cultural prohibitions against artists raising children, and in this Lindsay joins Elizabeth Murray (three children), Senga Nengudi (two children), Paul McCarthy (one child), and Loie Hollowell (one child), to name just a few examples of artists whose work is tied to children and family. Lindsay, who has six children, demonstrates that creativity, like love, is infinite and renewing. 

Dresses are harnessed by Lindsay for a variety of related ends. “Knew They Would, Knew You Would Be Here” (2020) is a garment of the artist’s own making, dyed in cedar wood and inscribed with concentric circles of words in the manner of tree rings. The text is from the journal of late 19th century Mormon pioneer Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich, Lindsay’s ancestor. The text can be found online, and encompasses the complicated legacy inherited by Americans of European descent. Pea Rich’s journal displays courage and perseverance, but in equal measure reflects the racist entitlement of Manifest Destiny, referring to indigenous Americans as “savages”. In Lindsay’s hands, this clothing embodies the ambiguities of birthright: protecting us but simultaneously hemming us in. As in her conjoined dresses, this work is a meditation on how we draw strength from what is handed down to us, yet how we must also struggle with received identity, finding ways to break free and refashion ourselves. 

Lindsays’s engagement with ancestral legacy and future generations finds another expression in her three-part series “She Knew People Might Think Her Frivolous” (2019-2020), a trio of iterations of a purse within a purse, again suggesting the mother-child relationship, but this time in utero. The outer container is vinyl, but the interior purse is made from mouldering flowers on a bed of soil. A child’s destiny is ultimately to die; we create new life knowing that we and our children will one day return to dust. Our humic origin and destiny quite literally ground us, maintaining the connection to our forebears and descendants. We bury our dead in the earth and mark the spot so that we may return to it, allowing our dead to nourish us spiritually by their presence in our hearts, and physically by their decomposition into the earth from which future generations will spring. The title of Lindsay’s exhibition, “Inherited Ground”, speaks directly to these truths, as do all her works within.