These needlepoint bell pulls are a manifestation of an attempt to reckon with my inherited privilege during the fever dream of late early 21st century America.
Needlepoint is (stereo)typically done by affluent White ladies. It is stiff, formal, polite and unyielding. To the extent that it serves a practical purpose, the purpose served is not essential. A chair no one can sit on. A not-soft pillow emblazoned with something too rude to say out loud. Or, even more peculiar: a bell pull – something one uses to summon another (subordinate) person to do something the summoner could do for herself.
The fantasy of ringing a bell to make problems disappear (especially when the problems at hand are alarming, systemic and you are possibly culpable) is enticing to the point of delusion. The more vigorous the yank on the pull and the louder the sound of the bell must mean that the problem is being made to *go* *away*.
The bells used here are excessively loud; all the better to solve excessive problems. The viewer is invited to sound the alarm and indulge in the fantasy of resolution.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ashley Allen Short is an American artist living and working in Chicago, Illinois. She was born in Connecticut and raised in Michigan and Illinois. After receiving her BFA in Textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design, she worked in New York City, designing fabrics for Scalamandre, Donghia, and Knoll. After a successful career in textiles, she returned to the Midwest to attend the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she received her MFA in Fiber.
Her work is informed by her training in design and her identity as an American. She finds inspiration in the present moment.
© Ashley Allen Short