Madeline A. Stratton

Without a Shadow of a Doubt

<em>Where the Doll Slept</em>, 2019,
hand-stitched thread, tulle, and acrylic on panel.
Where the Doll Slept, 2019, hand-stitched thread, tulle, and acrylic on panel.

What are the gaps in our memories, and how do we become aware of them? These questions gnawed at Madeline A. Stratton as she tried to conjure up images of her childhood bedroom, playroom, and kitchen many years later. She found that certain things stood out while others were existed in a haze or were entirely absent. “I’m interested in what our brains chooses to remember,” she said. “What gets fuzzy or what we make up.”

How to fill a space with nothing more than a lingering shadow? Stratton, who has been experimenting with sculpture-as-wall-protrusions, decided to flesh out her memories through multimedia wall hangings using a combination of painting, textile, and sculptured silhouette. “It started as an exercise: what can I actually remember without photographs?” she says. “I sketch them out, and then the colors are based on objects that existed in the space.” If she thinks that there was a blue throw pillow in a room, for example, she might paint one of the walls blue—a suggestion, or an echo.

In the center of the piece resides the nexus of these memories: a knickknack or a piece of furniture that was significant to her. Stratton hand stitches the outline of the object—a chair or a telephone perhaps—onto tulle, which allows for it to project onto the wall behind the work. “I want the space that they’re displayed in to be a part of the piece,” she says. “That play of the shadow behind them is really important.”

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Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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