Work > Box Gallery

John Harness
John Harness
May 2018

​"I keep a box made of Missouri walnut that holds my grandfather's cremated remains. Grandma didn't want to keep it.

Granddad's name was Paul. The name made me wonder about pallbearers: A pall was a burial veil put over a body or a casket.

I kept rhyming. Another shroud that covers a body is a caul, a part of the amniotic sac that can veil the head of a baby as it's born. They say a baby born with a caul will be prosperous, a seer or healer, immune to drowning, or otherwise cursed.

There's another fetal membrane, the chorion. It's called that because there's an old, old word that meant guts, like cat-gut strings on a violin. It's the same word as cord, and chord (notochord… harpsichord…). That same old, old word--through Old English this time instead of Greek--gave us a great little word if you're a weaver: yarn.

Thinking of Paul and palls and cauls and chords and yarn and birth and death, I made a little shroud for Box Gallery, but inside it, like the amnion inside the chorion, like the veil inside the cave."

John Harness co-founded and curates at The Condo Association, an anti-capitalist, pro-activist gallery in Humboldt Park, Chicago. His last show, Cat's Cradle (February, 2018), brought together fiber art works that encourage play and catalog memories. As an artist, his practice draws on traditional storytelling techniques, textile making, and game design.