Thread as Measurement of the Distance From East to West or Me to You

by Noah Greene-Lowe

My work is often a practice of unraveling and intertwining, whether or not I am working with fiber. I approach my materials as tangles of social, economic, political, and personal histories that may be pulled apart and reconnected. I often apply the logic or the physical form of thread to objects that are intended to be solid, closed off, or stand alone. Objects themselves become threads that connect my life to others, my body to labor performed far away, and present conditions to past histories.

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Figures 1-4. Noah Greene-Lowe. Tapestry (2021-ongoing). Secondhand jewelry, fencepost, wire. Approximately 135 x 76 in. (342.9 x 193 cm) at time of publication. Images courtesy of the artist.

In Tapestry (2021-ongoing), I treat secondhand necklaces and jewelry as strands of fiber by combining hundreds of them into a hanging, interwoven structure that imitates chain link fencing. This work considers the fence as both a barrier and a weaving. Tapestry translates the chain link fence into a delicate celebration of interconnected lives while also considering how interconnection can recreate exclusionary structures. Each piece of jewelry is a piece of the life of those who wore or crafted it. Woven together, these threads create a barrier in the same way that communities create an inside and an outside—sometimes protective and necessary, sometimes perpetuating structures of power that separate classes or races of people across space. Tapestry is a gesture toward community while keeping a critical eye on its structures. 

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Figures 5-6. Noah Greene-Lowe. I Fail to Walk 8,760 miles in my Shoes (2018). Artist’s used shoes, thread, steel mount. Approximately 12 x 55 x 6 in. (30.5 x 139.7 x 15.2 cm). Images courtesy of the artist.

I Fail to Walk 8,760 miles in my Shoes is a sculpture exhibited at the Baustein Building in Holyoke, MA as part of the exhibition re-mappings (April 26-May 3, 2018). It consists of my used sneakers, severed and sewn back together at a distance, materializing a relationship between overseas labor and everyday life in the US. The extension of the shoes 4.6 times in length reflects the ratio of the already abysmal US minimum wage to the even lower minimum wage in Vietnam, where these shoes were produced. My act of sewing both simulates the distance from and pays tribute to the hidden labor that produced these shoes. 

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Figures 7-9. Noah Greene-Lowe. St. Louis Landscape (Facing West) (2022). Curtain rod, found asphalt, jacquard woven blanket depicting a section of the painting Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). Approximately 70 x 72 x 36 in. (177.8 x 182.9 x 91.4 cm). Images courtesy of the artist.

St. Louis Landscape (Facing West) (2022), translated a section of a landscape painting by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) into a jacquard woven blanket. I unraveled the woven image and beaded it with loose asphalt gathered from the streets of St. Louis. As the “gateway to the west,” the landscape of St. Louis is closely tied to the visual imaginary of westward expansion. Thread became a means of exploring that connection between place and mythology physically. St. Louis Landscape uses the delicate materiality of individual threads to test the relationship between domesticated landscape imagery and the reality of a place that imagery helped to create.


Noah Greene-Lowe (b. 1996) is a multimedia artist from Atlanta, GA, living and working in Chicago. He received his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 2022. He is currently a Five College Instructor of Art at Hampshire College.

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