The Potter’s Wheel (1997)

White cotton bed sheets with white cotton embroidery thread
Each sheet 96” x 81” x .5”; dimensions of installation variable

This work consists of twelve white cotton bed sheets onto which I embroidered lists of names of specific positions from an English translation of the Kama Sutra. The work has been exhibited twice, and both times was installed with the sheets hung from the ceiling so that the lists of words in the center of the sheets would be at about eye level and viewers could walk in between the sheets. This choice allowed the backs of the sheets, where the lists of embroidered words are obscured not only by being backwards but by the knots and loose ends of thread, to be viewed. To me this was a calm remembrance of blinding passion.

My first interest in using the Kama Sutra as source material was the beauty and absurdity I found in the translated names of the positions when taken out of context. As I researched further into the Kama Sutra, I was captivated by a debate that is written out in the texts on whether women share the need to orgasm as men do. The following quote is from this debate. It is from a section entitled “Compatibility,” where the encouragement for balance and equality between partners elicits some of the most tender passages from all of the texts.

Could it be that a woman’s passion
is like a potter’s wheel, or a child’s top,
spinning at first slowly
and gathering speed until at last it blurs
in the mindless beauty of release?

The reference to the potter’s wheel is repeated later in the texts as the Kama Sutra describes its own purpose and limitations:

The texts on love can only be useful
while desire is still,
but once that potter’s wheel begins to turn,
my dears, throw down even Kama Sutra,
for then there is no law, no rules, no science.

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