Shalya Marsh and April Warren

Sticks and Stones

Thread and gouache on watercolor paper


Sticks and stones is a long distance collaborative project by artists April Warren and Shalya Marsh. Each artist began a series of pieces using a different approach to the media - Marsh sews and Warren paints – which was then delivered to the other artist to finish. The act of stitching to literally create the imagery references the craft tradition and speaks to the traditional roles of women, but the stitches also create the structure of the piece, whereas the painting element can work to either emphasize or conceal that structure, even as it works to conceal the blank surface of the paper itself.

Both artists take the idea of communication head on. That the stitches always reveal themselves through the surface of the paint suggests a limit to how much we can really hide from each other, or from the outside. There is formed a battle of wills between the two elements, sewn and painted, and they work together to create a unified image with varying degrees of success. Trust is challenged when the project is turned over to the collaborating party, and ownership is called into question. But the voice of the piece is revealed nevertheless: even as we defend our individuality through differences in artistic tools like medium and imagery, we cannot avoid fundamental similarities in how we perceive, define, and manipulate our worlds.