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The Waves Turn the Sand Each Day but the Largest Rocks Never Move at All

RISD Degree Project, 2021

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Digitally Printed Curtains, Handmade Writing Desk

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Jacquard Woven Rug, Screen printed Room Divider, Industrial Knit Pillows

Screen printed “Grass” Fabric, Industrial Knit & Hand Dyed Pillow and Blanket

Digitally Printed Wallpaper, Handmade Side Table

Jacquard Woven Cushion

I haven’t stopped thinking about the Folly Cove Designers since the day I first heard their story. What started as a simple trade for art lessons led to a group of community members becoming a successful woodblock printing studio. The leader of their studio, Virginia Lee Burton encouraged them to draw “what they knew.” For the fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts on Cape Ann, it meant boats, local flora and fauna, scenes of the neighborhood and even a print of neighbors gossiping. I love their story of community, of being authentic to their own experience and inspired by the everyday things they knew best. 

My Great Grandparents lived in the neighboring seaside town of Rockport, and I grew up visiting every summer. A few years ago, I brought up the Folly Cove Designers, wondering if there was any connection between my family and their studio, as they were in such close proximity. My Great Aunt told me about how her mother would occasionally take her over to the Folly Cove Designers’ barn to see what new designs were in. Hearing this, I was instantly jealous for a time forty plus years before I was even born, based purely out of my imagination of what this time must have been like. I wanted to be a part of their beautiful artist community and the flourishing domestic life that had so clearly inspired their work. The studio exists now as only a remnant of the past, the woodblock printed placemats tucked away in drawers, the barn torn down, and my hopes of ever being one of them impossible.

In all the stories and photos of Folly Cove, everyone seems content. Everything has an air of casual effortlessness to it. In current times, I cannot avoid what I see as the pitfalls of my modern life - lack of a close knit community, the pressure to constantly work and overexert oneself, and the push to achieve what is viewed as success by an industrial and capitalist-driven society. I am happy though, perhaps as a form of nostalgic escapism, to go back to the past. While I know the past had its own troubles, but I allow myself to escape into the romanticized version that lives in my mind. The idealized time that never truly existed, in which home and work had an equal balance. Where there was never a lack of inspiration and a group like the Folly Cove Designers could find their own version of success. 

While the past is viewed through a sentimental lens, it’s the ideals of community and authenticity that have become the most important in my work. I’ve tried to merge my perceptions of Folly Cove’s era with the present by creating objects that can exist within both worlds, contemporary yet nostalgic. My pieces express my love for Cape Ann, and all the local artists that came before me. We have all been inspired by the same landscape, quiet neighborhoods, forests of granite, and rocky beaches. The waves might turn the sand each day but the largest rocks never move at all. 

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