Spin Club Tapestry
I grew up in a small farming village in Northern Germany. Long ago, village women met regularly in “Spinneklumps” (Spin Clubs) to spin wool, embroider, and stitch fabrics for their homes. I imagine their conversations as they worked, the beautiful stories that lifted their spirits, as well as the stories of sadness, sorrow and loss. In modern times, village women continued to meet in this tradition, but shared stories over coffee and cake instead of needlework. These close-knit groups of women often stayed together until their death.
In this series, my composite images take the form of tapestries, combining images of embroidered Spin Club fabrics with new and old photographs from the village. I connect the present and the past by re-creating and re-imagining pieces of the embroidery. Spin Club tablecloths, napkins and wall hangings (some dating back to 1799) have been passed down from generation to generation. By following the stitches in these fabrics, I follow a path through the lives of my ancestors – their layout of a perfect pattern and the mistakes they made. Along the way, I add my own mistakes. The fabrics also reveal the passage of time, stained and distorted after sometimes decades of use. The patterns I have stitched myself into the paper are only abstractions of the original Spin Club designs, fragments of memory. After all, memory is fleeting, and changed forever in the act of recollection. Sometimes the stitching is incomplete, creating an invitation for future generations.
Every decision we make is influenced by our history, our environment, and the society we live in. The tapestry of my life belongs to me, but is stitched through with the beauty and heartache of past generations.
Astrid Reischwitz is a Boston-based photographer whose work explores the possibilities of storytelling from a personal perspective. Her projects include intimate views of private spaces and reflections on her own history and values. Using keepsakes from family life, old photographs and storytelling strategies, she builds a visual world of memory, identity, place, and home.
Her photographs have been exhibited in numerous solo, small group, and juried exhibitions throughout the US. Recent exhibitions include shows at Newport Art Museum, RI; The Center for Fine Arts Photography, CO; Davis Orton Gallery, NY; Danforth Art Museum, MA; Griffin Museum of Photography, MA; Providence Center for Photographic Arts, RI; Sohn Fine Art Gallery, MA; 555 Gallery, MA; Photographic Resource Center (prc), MA; and Soho Photo Gallery, NY.
Reischwitz is a Gold Medal Award and Portfolio Award winner at the San Francisco Bay International Photo Show (2018), and a finalist for the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2017. She is a Photolucida Critical Mass Top 50 photographer (2016) and winner of the 2016 International Portfolio Competition, Soho Photo Gallery, New York, as well as the winner of Portfolio ShowCase 10 at The Center for Fine Arts Photography, Fort Collins CO (2017). She was selected as one of Top 100 for Review Santa Fe Photo Festival (2015) and received a Silver Medal Award in the San Francisco International Photography Exhibition (2014).
Her photographs have been published online on sites including What Will You Remember, Lenscratch, and LensCulture. Stories from the Kitchen Table is featured on Wired Japan, Il Post Italy, P3 Portugal, and Syracuse University’s Family.Life. Her work was also published in Aint-Bad Mgazine (Curator’s Choice), The Boston Globe, NRC Handelsblad Amsterdam, and other print media.
Reischwitz began her study of photography at the International Center of Photography in New York soon after moving to the United States. She is a graduate of the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany, with a PhD in chemistry.
Contact Astrid Reischwitz