In 1953, at her school’s annual book fair, a 7-year-old girl bought a book which would affect the rest of her life: Catherine Christopher’s “The Complete Book of Doll Making and Collecting”, a “profusely illustrated guide” to designing and sewing many types of dolls and their clothes. By age 10, the girl was making clothes for herself and toys for her “sibs”; by 15, drapery and throw pillows for her family home and costumes for plays; by 17, her college wardrobe; by 20, slipcovers, bedding sets and wedding ensembles; by 25, fabrications for entire houses, her own and, over the years, hundreds of others; at 30, fun ideas for “daughter-stuff” from infancy through prom. Other work (administrator, secretary-bookkeeper, office manager, interior designer, kindergarten teacher, gallery helper, gardener-goatherd-camp counselor, farmer’s market organizer/participant) also came and went; but sewing stayed.
By 1999, she had built up a beauteous stash of shop scraps, remnants, samples, gifts, old linens and outdated clothes. Then she learned of the work of Tewa Women United in Pojoaque and Shoshone elder Corbin Harney and was inspired to use these recycled fabrics to make pieces that spoke about their efforts which honored Mother Earth. This experience, combined with her love of the land of northern New Mexico, led her to wonder: How would you sew a sunset? Or those Mountains? Or that tree? And she decided to find out. Some of the results are shown here.
In the early 1990's, another book, “Mimbres Painted Pottery” by Dr. J. J. Brody, brought drawing into her life. Having first fallen in love with Mimbres work when she moved from the East to Southern New Mexico at age 20, yet lacking a background in art, this book prompted a learn-as-you-go response. She spent a year copying designs from the book, studying “the rules” of Mimbres composition, fascinated by their way of using simple black lines on a white ground to depict their love of Nature’s creatures and the land, as well as scenes of their ceremonial and day-to-day lives. Eventually, ideas came to mind which expressed her desire to “see the world through Mimbres eyes.” Various single drawings (i.e. We Are Corn, My Mountain, Snake Dance) led to drawings-in-series: 12 Small Stories, which represent the months and seasons in a calendar year; and Earthling Portraits, which substitute animals of the Americas for the Euro/Afro images traditionally used in Western astrology.
While fabric work has been the major focus in recent years, drawing is staging a comeback; currently, she is working on larger images which she plans to complete by summer 2013. Meanwhile, the latest fabric pieces being prepared for the February 16, 2013 show at Ocho return to the (mostly) black-white format, although not in true Mimbres style. Rather, they are reflective of an on-going interest in duality (such as waking-dreaming, human-animal domiciles, indoor-outdoor vegetation). Both the inspiration (Mimbres) and the inspired (Starr) hope you enjoy these representations of our love for All Life on Mother Earth.