A collaboration between James Cherry and Megan Atwood Cherry

The game of cat’s cradle is a conversation conducted between two pairs of hands. Soft fiber passes from one person to another, supported by firm yet nimble hands. Patterns form, then shift shape as one set of hands talks to the other. It is a playful beginning to a lifetime’s devotion to handiwork. Cat's Cradle employs inherited materials and contrasting structures to reevaluate the passage of fiber art traditions, presenting a conversation and collaboration between generations.

Cat's Cradle articulates a relationship between seemingly opposite structures. Bent and laminated wood approximates the architecture of the hand, emphasizing the graceful curves of a bony frame. This abstraction points to the essential quality of those hands which weave and stitch: strength. The rope is another powerful force. Its suppleness balances the rigidity of the hands without sacrificing softness or its unique ability to connect. Cat's Cradle does not present a hierarchy of structural solutions, but rather illustrates the way that rigid and pliable forces can collaborate.
Cat's Cradle considers fiber art traditions as a dialogue which passes as heirloom from one generation to the next. The rope in this piece is made from my maternal grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s afghans, cut into strips and wound into rope. This material choice embodies the passage of tradition from one generation to the next. The most deeply imprinting experiences with fiber art often occur during childhood. One watches spellbound as hands and needles magically turn skeins into blankets, scraps into cozy abundance. Games like cat’s cradle may solidify one’s regard for handiwork, fiber and repeated patterns, but preserving this lineage is hardly child’s play. It is transference of power and comfort, a bequeathal of tradition.

While the fiber arts have historically been relegated to secondary status because of the location of their production, this piece suggests a shift in that value system. That which is made in the home is not silliness or busywork. Works made from fabric or yarn have a dual function as both utilitarian objects and as conjurers. The fiber arts call domestic security into being, while the pattern of a cat’s cradle provokes a deep nostalgia. These sensations and physical structures are the foundations of home, woven or sewn, stitch by stitch, with strong and canny hands.