I work with donated, repurposed, lace and linens in sculpture and installation. The aggregation of individual stitches into monumental works makes visible the untold stories of economic labor, and labor of care, in the lives of women. The sculptural works reference female bodies as architecture, sheltering the community under their voluminous skirts. In their exaggerated scale and insistent tenderness they are manifestos of femininity and strength, a tangible act of mending, remembering, collecting and preserving. I am interested in the slippage between an appearance of awkwardness, unfinish, and contingency, precariously held by sewing pins and thread, with an underlying architectural stability and strength. I respond to the machismo of big installations through a soft object — one that is adaptable, collapsable, able to grow in scale without a corresponding destructive use of resources. Repurposed bio-degradable materials and natural dyes allow for site-responsive installations with a small ecological footprint.
Recent projects began with family lace from my Italian and Irish grandmothers, Ermenegilda and Rebecca. During the pandemic, I posted images on social media of dying the lace with cochineal insect dye. An outpouring of initially unsolicited donations of lace from around the world began to arrive, and continues today. Donations arrive with letters, stories, and pictures of the family and maker. The complex form of lace, often dismissed as grandma’s doilies, retains traces of the economic and craft histories of women. I recognized these donations as representing the countless stories of unknown women, an historical community archive of thousands of pieces of lace and family histories - and now preserve them in The Lace Archive. Each note and textile is documented— photographed, measured, and archived, before being sewn into an artwork. As the work develops, many textiles arrive at my door; lace, linens, skirts, aprons, napkins, handkerchiefs, tablecloths and duvet covers, embroidered in colorful threads, crocheted in complex patterns, or with unfinished needle work, from a mother, auntie, grandmother or great-grandmother. The ties of aprons read as forlorn arms in search of a body to wrap around, an anthropomorphic form of domestic autonomy and strength. These intimate items have no commodity value, created for a home they might never leave. They are tangible acts of love, a labor of private care circulating inside the domestic sphere.
Textile is an intimate material that touches our bodies from birth to death, it protects and adorns, comforts and covers, a record left in its fibers. Its legacy and continued importance is visible in the connections that have surfaced in this project, particularly with the women who preserve these family legacies. The care and generosity shared through these donations is instrumental to the work, through intimate stories about the lace, the makers, the family who preserved it, and the desire for it to live on in the work and in the archive. This work demands to take up space in physical terms, without ceding either softness or strength. This feels urgent in a moment when women’s bodies continue to be in the peril of legal and social control by governmental and religious institutions and individuals.
curatorial and consulting
I curate at MAPSpace and independently, and work with artists in critique and professional practice both privately and in the Crit Lab. With decades of experience in teaching professional practice to undergrad, grad and working artists, I have developed practical structures that support artists in in making visible their vision, articulating this through their writing, website, and in representations of their work in the digital space. I offer consulting for writing statements and preparing portfolios for grants and proposals, website analyses, and the many business skills of being an artist. Every consultation incorporates an ethical and socially conscious framework for building a sustainable practice suited to each artist's unique situation. Artist-run culture and community are fundamental to all of my work.
Patricia Miranda is an artist, curator, educator, and founder of the artist-run orgs The Crit Lab and MAPSpace, where she developed residencies in Port Chester, Peekskill, and Italy. In 2021 she founded the Lace Archive, an historical community archive of thousands of donated lace works and family histories. She has received grants from the Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation (2022);Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (2021); two artist grants from ArtsWestchester/New York State Council on the Arts (2014/21); an Anonymous Was a Woman Covid19 Relief Grant (2021), and was part of a year-long NEA grant working with homeless youth (2004-5). She has been awarded residencies at the Constance Saltonstall Foundation, I-Park, Weir Farm, Vermont Studio Center, and Julio Valdez Printmaking Studio, and been Visiting Artist at Vermont Studio Center, the Heckscher Museum, and University of Utah. Miranda has developed education programs for K-12, museums, and institutions, including Franklin Furnace, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian Institution. She is a noted expert on the history and use of natural dyes and pigments, and teaches about environmentally sustainable art practices. As faculty at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (2005-19) she led the first study abroad program in Prato, Italy (2017). Recent solo exhibitions include: the Olin Fine Art Center (Washington PA), 3S Artspace (Portsmouth, NH), Jane Street Art Center, Garrison Art Center (Hudson Valley, NY), ODETTA Gallery, and Maine Window DUMBO (NYC). Group exhibitions include Spartanburg Art Museum (Spartanburg, SC); Dunedin Fine Art Center (Dunedin FL); HV MOCA (Peekskill NY), The Lyman Allyn Museum (New London, CT), Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), Williamsburg Art+Historical Center, The Clemente Center (NYC), The Alexey von Schlippe Gallery at UConn Avery Point, (Groton, CT). Her recent work has been featured in Art New England (2022), Hudson Valley One (2022) and Brooklyn Rail, (2021).