Mandy Pedigo is a textile artist and museum collections assistant in St. Louis, Missouri. She earned her MFA in Textiles from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Master of Arts in Education from Fontbonne University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Webster University. Mandy exhibits in shows across the Midwest and is currently working on writing for art publications. Her work explores the relationships between self, land, history, memory and the impacts of immigration.
My great grandparents came to this country from Finland, and in the span of one generation much of their culture and language faded from my family. Even in the effort to assimilate to American culture, traces of heritage remained to be handed down. Through the process of my making, I’ve realized this knowledge has passed unexpressed to me.
Researcher Pauline Boss studies the effects of immigration on families and the loss that results when one leaves home to travel and settle in a new place. She writes, “Homesickness was an essential part of my family’s culture. I think it may be true for all immigrant families, but it certainly was for mine. And it was even in the village because there were many immigrant families there.”
Much of my work functions as maps; maps tell us how to get to our destinations, describes the details of a particular place and how to orient ourselves to our surroundings. Maps evolve in response to changes to place, terrain and land use. Like maps, our memories change over time; the image we retain of a location seldom matches its actual character. The Finns have deep cultural connections with nature. It is no wonder that my family came to America and settled in an area that resembles Finland in many ways. My family carried a surname that translates from Finnish as “the land endures.” The work that I create echoes my family’s historic bond with land as well as the new ones I have formed in experiencing different places.
As weaving and stitching are all naturally slow processes, my work engages time. Working slowly is a direct opposite to the pace of our present culture. Slow allows for quiet, time to think, to meditate and to fully engage with tasks and ideas.