The Thread – A Forty Year Mid-Career Retrospective

June 1 – August 31, 2012
208 Flynn Ave. #2-G, Burlington, VT

Round Rocks, graphite drawing, 1972


Ball of Yarn I, Monotype, 2012


The Thread

I make images that address issues of human and environmental development, evolution and healing. Taking the concept that the personal is universal, I have looked for the issues and experiences that connect us. It is both a journey inward and then outward. My early work addresses issues of self definition as an artist, wife, feminist, and mother; followed by images exploring spirituality and healing. My mid-career work expresses my connection to community and ideas about the world politically and environmentally. The work I am doing today pulls on many themes and images I have worked with in the past. Connecting threads and ideas and evolving into something beyond myself that balances the internal with the external.

Metaphorical self-portraits were a way that I examined who I was in the world. Working with my surroundings, the spaces I inhabited, built and worked in, and many of the tools I used. In this work, I often used objects to represent myself and think about my relationships.

Artwork was a way of coming to terms with myself as a woman, feminist and all of the roles and stigmas associated with being a housekeeper, mother, and wife. I made images that celebrated those things we weren’t so sure we wanted to see: brooms and brushes, clothes lines, clothes stacks, and laundry. I was making art of my daughter’s plastic toys scattered across the antique patterns of a Persian rug in a time when women artists weren’t taken seriously, unless like O’Keefe, they gave up having children for their art.

In the Kimono series I embrace and explore my inner spiritual life thinking about holding, nurturing and protecting. These images led into coming to terms with early sexual trauma. Learning to trust my intuition and work from an internal, feeling source I developed images of wounds, cocoons, nests and prayers; looking for the wholeness that embraces both the light and the dark.

The bird emerged to exemplify the concept of body / spirit, heaven / earth. It is a creature that lives both on the land and in the sky. For myself, a person connected to my soul and inner life and also of the world, the bird / crow has been a great spokes-being for me. Expressing my love of the land, preservation, and sacred earth; protesting the war; thinking about community and the ways we can contribute to the good of society. After 9/11 the birds figured out new ways to support each other by picking up the thread together. Birds leaving the nest and taking flight as children go off to college. Birds dying as I deal with the loss of parents and friends as they pass on.

Currently, the knitting and music series is a journey both inward and outward at the same time. I explore the routine of repetitive process that reconnect ourselves to our souls; the rhythms of our lives, the cycles of creation, unraveling tangles, and re-creation; the structures that are possible and the metaphor that knitting is of community. The creation of a fabric from a single thread is a very strong metaphor. It is in a tradition that has largely been passed down the matriarchal line from grandmother to mother to daughter through the ages. I find in this work I can create representatively, abstractly and in a narrative way to encompass a wide spectrum of integration from the past, present and future.

Carol E.S. MacDonald VCAM/RETN Retrospective, 2012

Bearing Alms VII, Etching, Monoprint, 2005


Reviews of the show were written in:
Seven Days:

Art Map Burlington:

Previous Post
Vogue Knitting: LIVE
Next Post