Kate Just is an American born, Australian feminist artist best known for her inventive and political use of knitting. Through the deployment of traditional craft forms, such as knitting and sewing, Just questions histories of female and queer representation through the lens of subjective experience. Always autobiographical, her solo work and socially engaged collaborative projects explore ideas of feminist conceptions of the body, memories of gender and family, and the power of craft to elicit social change.
In this new body of work, Self Care Action Series, forty brightly coloured, hand-knitted panels bear texts relating to self-care actions. The series arose from the artist’s lived experience as a queer woman, an artist, a teacher, advocate, activist, and parent who dedicates a lot of time working in artworld and real-world contexts to generate social and politic change. In response to a build-up of exhaustion and frustration, Just began to formulate texts/actions for herself – to sustain and care for oneself – in difficult times. Though initially made to consider how artists and activists can build emotional resilience to be able to continue doing the work they do, the series was further shaped and informed by personal struggle and grief, including the death of Just’s dearly loved father.
The series is one of positivity and hope. These simple design elements of each panel – all are an identical size and defined by the use of brightly coloured backgrounds and the same rounded font – underscores the optimism of the project and the clarity of the actions. Each is a simple prompt that Just considers crucial for her own emotional survival and resilience and an invitation to others to imagine how they might prioritise caring for themselves. Just says that beyond offering the means for taking care of herself as an artist and activist, these panels are guides with simple reminders of how it is possible to survive grief, global upheaval, family stress, and life changes. “As I share them with others,’ she writes, ‘I notice that reminders to love and care for yourself are always welcome.”
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