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Imperfect Rituals

Bobbi Meier, January 2023

Repurposed needlework portraits, sculptural objects of porcelain and fabric, invented tchotchkes, drawings, interrupted domestic furniture, and the muted sounds of family gatherings are juxtaposed in my domestically inspired installation. I use these materials as a foundation for re-invention of the decor of my childhood home and as a reflection of the labors of my mother and grandmother. 

A litany of human emotions—longing, anger, fear, sadness, humor, frustration, desire, embarrassment, and the experiences that propel these feelings—are on my mind as I produce my work. I am interested in the connection between the meaning that is inherently present in domestic materials and their relationship to body and memory. At my Kohler residency in 2019, I translated the tactility of spandex and pantyhose from soft to hard through the porcelain slip-casting process, which allowed the interior of the soft sculptures to be revealed in a new skin and become two bodies of work: Family Portraits and Centerpieces for Matriarchs. These parallel threads of porcelain objects became a further development of the tapestry portraits: Sunday Dinners. In these series, abstracted forms are stand-ins for family dynamics, feelings and thoughts that lie beneath the surface and are present on the surface. Buttoned-up emotions, secrets, and misunderstandings compete for attention in our search for perfection.

Rituals of daily living shifted dramatically in our life when our daughter and her family of 4 moved in with us in our two-bedroom home during the early days of the pandemic. Two children under age three became the driving force in rituals of bathing, eating, working, exercising and relaxing. Making art was practically non-existent.

Snippets of alone time became stolen moments to create and listen to the family slowly waking during early morning solitude. This nearly year-long communal living experience is the source for the sound installation Voices in the Sanctuary.


Imperfect Rituals emphasizes our fraught connections in families. What we choose to reveal and what we do not, our perceived flaws, the feelings we hide and the thoughts that remain unspoken. Through aggressive and cathartic manipulation of domestic materials, I am expressing the complexity of lived experiences, the messiness of relationships, and the fragility of our bodies.

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