Background: Tapestry needlework by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) in negative.
Foreground: H.D.’s thimble, my finger inside cropped out.
Unboxing H.D.’s archive of needleworks and sewing supplies, I placed her thimble on my finger. For a moment, I dwelled in her practice through that object, trying to reimagine her relationship to making art during her long life and career. I also thought about the thimble as an ancient tool that crosses cultures, joining women across time, space, and experience. Or how H.D.’s poetic mythic warrior women might have worn the thimble as a tiny shield, weaving and stitching their way out of war.
The negative turns an image en dehors. The negative and positive together are necessary, but so often we only focus on the positive, the finished thing over the thing-in-process. When feminist scholars reverse the lights and darks of what counts as literary craft, we create space for richer positives, for images of higher contrast and cross-media design.
An en dehors garde archive reveals the literary objects forgotten on the flip side.