Elaine Reicheck is a New York-based artist who uses embroidery to explore conceptual and aesthetic ideas in art. Though she has a background in painting, actually receiving an MFA from Yale in the subject, she began to question her training and wonder what kind of statement she wanted to make with her art. Though she experimented with knitting wool, hand-paining found photographs and other techniques, embroidery emerged as Reicheck’s material of choice. She creates beautiful works on linen using needle and thread.
Though she does quite a bit of her work by hand, Reichek also experiments with computerized sewing. She doesn’t feel this is a shortcut in anyway, as her work is as much about the concept as it is the end result.
There is also an undoubtedly feminist aspect to Reicheck’s work. She attributes it to working with so many male painters during her training. Embroidery, a historically feminine pastime, allows Reichek to explore the same ideas as her male painter counterparts, but, as she says, “if I make them that way, of course their meaning changes, since the meaning of an artwork is always bound with its media and processes and their history.”
Usually selecting a theme to base a series around, Reichek’s latest embroiders consider the myth of Ariadne. Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of thread with which to retrace his steps allowing him to escape the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Reichek created art-historical portraits, many of which contain Araidne’s image, and paired them with quotes from literary sources such as Nietzsche or Catullus.