If you think your jackhammer and motorcycle make you look tough, just take a look at Theresa Honeywell’s knit accessories! What says “macho” better than tools and guns made out of knit fabric? This Washington D.C. native takes traditionally masculine objects, and gives them a feminine edge by creating them with knit and embroidery. By using methods that have previously been labeled a “feminine craft,” she sparks a dialogue on the masculine and feminine and what it means to align objects with these social constructs. Studying sculpture at university, she combines her talents in three-dimensional art with her interest in combining art and craft. The dichotomy between feminine and masculinity paired with art and craft challenges our pre-conceived notions of these themes.
It is interesting that knitting and embroidery have traditionally been perceived as feminine, when masculinity is often associated with labor-intensive tasks. These two techniques are in fact incredibly time consuming and require a lot of labor and skill. You can see the astonishing details includes in Honeywell’s work while examining every stitch and bead in her work. The artist even included the brand name of the jackhammer, and the pink and purple motorcycle is actually life size! Her intricate, delicate sculptures really show us the softer side of these “masculine” objects.
Two brilliant artists, Amanda Charchian and Jose Romussi, have collaborated and created and incredibly dreamy, breathtaking series. LA based artist Charchian has a very unique style of photography that emphasizes the human body in creative, innovative ways. This combined with Chilean artist Romussi’s technique of embroidery on photograph, brings an entirely new focus on the figure. In their collaboration series, the scene is set in a dramatic black and white, bringing an unearthly white glow to the subjects. A mysterious aura can be seen in each surreal image, with both figures embodying a ghostly feel. One aspect of this series that is so intriguing is the choice in wardrobe and makeup. The subjects both sport little to no clothing, but what little they do have on is somewhat theatrical and reminiscent to a different era. The makeup is equally dramatic, with each figure having stark white or jet-black eyebrows, with black, heart shaped lips. Each scene mystifies the viewer while intriguing them into the next situation.
Both artists’ indistinguishable style shows through in this captivating, collaborative series. Charchian’s interesting use of aesthetically pleasing positions of the body still ring true, while Romussi’s embroidery adds a whole new element that skews your way of seeing. This hazy, ethereal series often displays a duality of bodies that is reminiscent to the internal and external self. Prints of this stunning series are available for purchase on her website. Make sure to follow her Instagram for more amazing photography.
The work of Los Angeles based artist Nike Schroeder is full of a complex hybrid of mediums, as she integrates textiles, painting, and installation into her art. Her installations are creates from fiber where the colors of the threads have a very intentional meaning, as they draw their palette from the hues of the horizon at dawn. In one installation, the thread cascades to the floor, dripping off the canvas. Schroeder includes this same aesthetic in many of her other works, including her embroidery. The artist creates portraits out of needle and thread, with certain colors of thread hanging loose so to draw your eye to certain areas. Often, these bright colors and hanging thread come from the subject’s eyes or lips. Other times, this thread is not hanging loose, but cutting across to the other side of the canvas, dissecting the composition with multi-colored fibers. The harsh line Schroeder imposes onto her portraits guides your eye to specific elements.
As if Schroeder’s fiber-based installations and intricate embroideries were not impressive enough, many of her textile pieces are extremely large. Her nude portraits of women, which examine the beauty ideals of the female body, are actually life-size! These, again, contain long, hanging thread pouring down from certain elements, jolting our eyes to an “unlikely” part of the women; their pubic hair. This series among others in Schroeder’s expansive body of work include not only thread but paint as well. The artist often applies paint like she does fiber, with flowing drips. Schroeder’s work can be seen on view at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles from May 30th through July 11th.
Using discarded inner tubes and a needle and thread, South African artist Hannalie Taute embroiders portraits onto rubber. She takes cuts the abandoned material and cuts them apart to stitch together and form a “canvas.” Often, this means that her subjects have a subtle honeycomb pattern as their backdrop. “Besides the durability and availability of rubber from inner tubes found in car tires, I also decided to embroider on rubber because I find the contrast of working with needle and thread on these inner tubes fascinating,” she says in an artist statement.
As you might imagine, rubber is a tough surface to embroider on. Every stitched line is shown, and Taute isn’t able to seamlessly blend together the different hues. The results are fractured areas of color that abstract her portraits, although not to the point of unrecognition. And, this is partially the idea – to subvert materials. The rubber’s coarse texture is offset by the delicate thread, but at the same time the thread can seem rough with its choppy arrangement.
The artist’s inspiration comes from a number of places, but boil down to identity. She writes:
Titles, words, phrases from books, music, stories, sayings and toys play an integral part in conveying meaning and biographical info about me as a mother, wife and artist in society. Relationships between people and objects are something I prefer to explore using my chosen medium.
In the depths of East London, artist Lucy Sparrow ambitiously converted an abandoned, rundown store into a majestic, playful and fully functional corner shop. The only catch is that every single object in this store, including the cash register and the functional pricing gun, is made out of felt! Everything has been stitched and created by Sparrow herself out of nothing but felt, thread, and the occasional stuffing. Last year, when The Cornershop was “opened” it was filled to the brim with normal, everyday items that a grocery shop may have in stock, but instead, made of felt. The items included ice cream, cans of soup, Doritos, beer, and even cigarettes, just to name a few. The variety of items that were sold at the store was endless. The best part about this corner shop is that it functioned as a real store. A customer could enter the store, shop, purchase the felt items, and take them home. Sparrow’s felt creations became so popular that she even opened up an online shop where anyone in the world can purchase his or her own soft food and cigarettes.
Each grocery store product looked impressively similar to its real-life counterpart, in spite of being made out of felt, with the exception of Sparrow’s vegetables with eyes, of course. While The Cornershop was opened, it contained over 4,000 soft, plush items. The painstaking task of creating each individual grocery item out of felt and embroidery speaks volumes to the artist’s patience and artistic talent. (via The Jealous Curator)
Brooklyn-based artist Elana Adler uses the traditional craft of an embroidery sampler to outline the crude things said to her by street harassers. The series is titled You Are My Duchess, and features small, decorative pieces of needlework (which historically feature bible stories or other imagery) that say some negative, disgusting things. Adler stores each saying in an elaborate frame, and writes in her artist statement:
This series of thirty-two (plus) samplers is intended to be provocative and evoke emotion. It is a contemporary feminist interpretation of women’s work and an objectification of my personal experience. Each captures a moment, giving these words a visual presence, a power, and a state of concreteness. These words were hurled casually and heard quickly but required hours of time-consuming, careful stitching.
The physically delicate, traditionally feminine, form of the piece engages the viewer and confronts him/ her with a sweetness that may mask its crassness and vulgarity.
She goes on to explain that the strength of this series comes in numbers. While you might read one and be amused, the more you read will change your response.
The inherent filth emerges. It is a beautification of an assault. Perhaps in the moment these statements are meant to compliment, but most don’t find vulgar, highly sexualized statements whispered or screamed at them by random strangers complimentary. Rather, they are an invasion of personal space. (Via Got a Girl Crush)
Sally Hewett is a UK-based embroider who gives new meaning to a sculptural approach to the craft. Instead of stitching subject matter like flowers, puppies, and generally happy scenes, she fills embroidery hoops with butts, breasts, and genatalia. The circular compositions rise from the surface and Hewett uses well-placed stitches to give form to these bulbous shapes. In addition, she’ll use dangling threads to simulate public hair, both trimmed and natural.
In her artist statement, Hewett states that she’s interested in ideas of beauty and the things that people do because of it. She writes:
Men and women almost ritualistically shave and remove hair from their bodies – beards, underarm hair, pubic hair, leg hair etc, whereas other hair – hair on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes – are valued and encouraged to flourish. But there is other hair which not everyone has. Sometimes this special hair seems to be reason to feel ashamed. A large number of women and men submit their bodies to extraordinary procedures in the name of convention or beauty – liposuction, implants, scarification, surgery, laser treatment, electrolysis etc.
Embroidery is often see as an innocuous craft, and part of the reason that Hewett works this way is to see how the medium affects how the content is seen. Is it more shocking, amusing, or beautiful simply because it’s portrayed with a needle and thread?
Alaina Varrone is a embroidery artist who, according to her, was born to a family of weirdos and storytellers. She uses this natural inclination to tell tales using thread which are often explicit and erotic in nature. We see naked men and women, sexual acts, and general kinkiness stitched into cotton fabric. Sometimes, Varrone will use delicate-looking floral patterns that add to the delightful absurdity of her work.
Typically, embroidery is seen as a craft, and an activity that’s a favorite among grandmothers (although it does have a thriving community of younger folks). It’s content is generally seen as inoffensive and family-friendly. Varrone has turned this convention on its head by sewing scenes that that are anything but. Her characters go after their desires and fantasies, creating an amusing juxtaposition between how we’re used to seeing embroidery versus all of its possibilities. (Via Juxtapoz)