A magazine generally sits on a newsstand for 168 hours. Coincidentally, this is also how long it takes artist Jennifer Drinkwater to create each magazine cover in her cross-stitch project “168 Hours.”
Drinkwater’s project is the February exhibit at the Creston Arts Depot Gallery, open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. At the opening reception on Friday, Drinkwater said that this cross-stitch project was a nice break from her usual painting.
“The year before I had started this project, I had done a lot of painting on large pieces of steel to make them magnetic and interactive. I wanted something I can just do and not have to transport and talk to people,” Drinkwater said. “I knew I wanted to cross-stitch. It’s something you can do in the car, you can do in front of the TV, you can take it anywhere rather than being in a painting studio. It’s convenient.”
While the project may have been more convenient to work on, it certainly took longer than expected.
“It was supposed to be for the whole year of 2013, and you will notice that it’s 2024, so it’s been a very long project because they take so long,” Drinkwater said.
There is a deeper meaning to this work rather than just recreating a magazine cover. “168 Hours” is an archive of 24 different magazine covers over the course of a year. Drinkwater paired the covers of Time and People from the same day to “create a broader documentation of our culture and invites viewers to formulate their own perceptions.”
“The project started with one of Kelly Clarkson and a drone plane,” Drinkwater said. “They were literally sitting on the newsstand together at Books-a-million, and I was like, that is really weird. We should be afraid of drone planes, and hey look, there’s Kelly Clarkson. It just seemed really funny to me.”
Drinkwater said it was interesting how the magazine content might be from over 10 years ago, yet it is still relevant today.
“I’ve stitched Kate Middleton’s face like four times, and she’s still around,” Drinkwater said. “It’s funny how, I thought this might be dated, but it’s still a lot of the same issues.”
Drinkwater normally focuses on painting, but said this project has overall helped her creativity.
“I think it was just reinforcement that ideas sometimes are more important than the material that you use,” Drinkwater said. “I was an anthropology major in college, and so I think this is kind of reminiscent of all of that, just looking at it through that lens and our weird American cultures. And that it’s okay to take a break from painting and do something different sometimes.”
Originally from Mississippi, Drinkwater is an assistant professor with a joint appointment between the Department of Art and Visual Culture and ISU extension and outreach. Her work is available for purchase. Those interested can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.