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Synonyms for, Symptoms of, Suffocation, Solitude_1
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Iliana Cosme-Brooks

Synonyms for, Symptoms of, Suffocation, Solitude (Textile work)

My piece is an exaggerated, oversized, textured crochet sweater and accompanying mask that are meant to represent how I felt after being quarantined at home for months on end. The oversized sweater is meant to be difficult to move in (it’s even difficult to put on) with the lack of shaping and the extra-long knit cuffs obscuring the hands. The eyeless mask made with scratchy yarn is uncomfortable and fully cuts the wearer off from everyone else.


Receiving the Microgrant allowed me to make this project more ethically than those I have done in the past since it is something that is very difficult when living on a college student budget. I was able to use the funding to purchase organic wool yarn from a WOC-owned yarn shop, along with some yarn from Woven Art, a yarn shop in East Lansing that’s just north of campus. This piece means so much more given that it’s made with materials that I can be proud of, instead of supporting large craft chains; it gives the melancholic nature of the piece a bit of hope, which is what we all need right now. 

Creating is what has been getting me through COVID. I was able to keep myself occupied by learning various textile arts, and embroidering and crocheting during zoom classes oddly kept me more focused and grounded in this all-encompassing, digital time. The feeling of making something with my own hands made up for the fact that a majority of my life was taking place on a flat screen. Being able to express myself while I was cut off from the rest of the world kept me aware and active in the way that friendships had done for me in the before-times, and that was incredibly important for me and my mental health. 

I think that it would be very beneficial for students to have access to this type of funding in the future. This project has acted as a time of reflection and realization for me that I don’t think could have been replicated by anything else. Without this project, I don’t think I would have ever considered myself an “artist.” I wouldn’t have memories of working on this while surrounded by family and friends over the past few months. The freedom that this kind of opportunity and funding provides was not something that I was expecting going into this, and it was incredibly impactful.