Photo Collaboration with Artist: April Karlovit
From April Karlovit:
In 1981, after moving our family to Boonville, Missouri, I had the good fortune to meet Ms. Callie Rudell, a vigorous woman in her eighties with downy white hair worn in a French twist, clear blue eyes, and a sweet toothless grin. Her house, a stately brick Victorian, had a rounded tower with curved double hung windows. It was inside on the first floor that I would find Ms. Callie sitting among her sewing tools, surrounded by dresses for little girls.
Time stopped as I stepped into the front hall dark with tooled leather wall-covering and imposing ornate hall tree. Ms. Callie’s stories would bring me to the time of hand sewn practical cotton dresses for young girls. With deep hems to be let out as girls grew taller, hand sewn button holes, delicately tatted collars and carefully smocked split sleeves and bodices, the dresses came alive with color, textures and most importantly each handmade stitch.
As a young woman, Ms. Callie’s talents allowed her to be a seamstress for Marshall Field and Company in Chicago in the 1910s. Her reputation grew to include smocking the French silk blouses for President Woodrow Wilson’s (in office 1913-1921) wife, Ellen Louise (Axson).
Having three little daughters, I clothed them in Ms. Callie’s dresses. Sturdy and durable, we for a short time played at living in another era. The birth of my first granddaughter caused me to pull out Callie’s dresses. They are still wearable.
To honor the seamstresses, designers and women who sew in my family, I began a collaboration with photographer, Emily Koonse. While Koonse dreamily captures each dress digitally, I journey through each pleat and stitch with applied ink and paint on paper.
I remember you, Ms. Callie Rudell and thank you for sharing your gifts of a time fading from our memory.
A motherwork.org collaboration ~ print collection coming soon