Breathe features a multitude of handstitched embroideries, installed in a single line. The project, in its entirety, consists of more than seventy works that function as a material record of Jan Wade’s act of making while expressing the rhythm of her own breath. The hauntingly prescient Breathe took on newfound urgency following the killing of Eric Garner in a prohibited chokehold by a police officer in New York City in 2014. Says the artist, “From then on I thought of these pieces as breathing…as breath itself…every stitch a mantra…of the unacknowledged…JOY…of breathing…a calm…moment by moment…breath by breath…stitch by stitch… mantra…a spell-poem that would and could help sustain my own life…and our right to life…”
Jan Wade: Soul Power
Jan Wade, Breathe, c.2004–20
Embroidery on linen, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, General Acquisition Fund, Courtesy of Jan Wade. Photo credit: Ian Lefebvre, Vancouver Art Gallery.