take care | care – less by Catherine Reinhart

Take Care. A common Midwestern greeting. Shared warmly between strangers. Passed between friends.

Catherine Reinhart, take care, installation in situ – Altered Quilt, hand embroidery, yard sale sign, Ames, IA, 2020. Image Credit: Zachary Reinhart

From May 2020 – August 2020, I participated in the ART – IN – PLACE, a collaboration between CNL Projects and Terrain Exhibitions that invites artists to exhibit an original work of art outside their home or from a window visible to the public. I made two yard signs using an abandoned corduroy quilt. In french knots, I stitched the words take care, and plopped them down in my front yard. I extended that greeting from my little family to my neighborhood and indeed, to the world.

During this project, I contemplated the various meanings of “take care”.

It can be a shallow, departing sentiment. TAKE CARE.

A thinly veiled warning. TAKE CARE

A “tread lightly there, friend.”

An admonition of self-care . TAKE CARE.

While in social isolation, it was an olive branch for me. A plea for people (and myself) to give a damn, to try harder. To work more at caring for others.

Catherine Reinhart, take care (exhausted), Composite photograph from take care installation, (L) May – (R) July 2020. Image courtesy of the artist.

As the pandemic continued, it became harder to maintain this perspective.

Like my banners, out there in my front yard, my resolve has faded.

Keeping up creative efforts, without a lick of childcare and with increased mental strain, is downright exhausting.

I am keenly aware of when I fail in my duties to TAKE CARE.

The faded and sagging fabric pieces. The shapes of dead grass.

The indicators of failure. The dereliction of duty: “the shameful failure to fulfil one’s obligations&rdquo

Catherine Reinhart, take care (faded), Composite photograph from take care installation, (L) May – (R) July 2020. Image courtesy of the artist.

But TAKE CARE. I tell myself. It is also a call to be gentle with myself and others.

But what if those indicators were not a source of shame but a sign post for help?

What if they were a beacon of imperfection?

What if they called out my own weakness and called on others to prop me up?

A call to give up perfection. A call to care-Less.

So I will do what I can, with what I have, where I am at.

About Catherine Reinhart

Catherine Reinhart is an interdisciplinary artist who makes fiber art and conducts socially engaged projects centered around the themes of domestic labour, connection and care.

To find out more about Catherine Reinhart see her artists website or IG account

Learn more about her studio practice on her website or IG.