Colleen Toutant Merrill works in fiber– from stitching to embroidery; and interestingly enough, it makes sense that she would use such a traditional folk medium to examine contemporary subject matter such as social media, Google, and Google Maps. These Internet resources are, essentially, a modern day electronic quilt of sorts, piecing together not only our societal curiosities or interests, but also our performative identities in a community.
On this note, Merrill explains, “Quilting bees and embroidery traditionally served as social outlets and communication. Quilts and embroidery both have encoded symbolism and explicit messages as do digital communications.”
London-based artist Julie Cockburn revises old throw-away photographs and paintings with embroidery thread, shears, and other sundry items to create new contemporary curiosities. Each delicately considered piece contemplates craft culture in relation to the industrial age or mass production, and the identities that roam invisibly from one transmission to the next.
Of her work, Flowers Gallery suggests, “Julie introduces ideas to found objects that generate dialogue about modernity and art history, gender and identity, nature and urbanity and the relationship between process and idea.”
Lithuanian artist Severija Incirauskaite embroiders everyday metal objects like pans, spoons, watering cans, shovels, and even cars. Incirauskaite drills holes into the metal objects, then uses cotton thread that generally corresponds to the color of the chosen object, emphasizing the importance of the object. She generally uses mass patterns from different hobby magazines, combining popular craft techniques with nontraditional methods of execution. Of her work, she says, “Personally, I don’t like extraordinary situations – I like everyday life. People often think that a situation like a wedding or exotic travels etc are the most important in their lives. I think the opposite, I think that everyday life is more important because it unites all our lives.”
“Candace Couse is a visual artist exploring issues surrounding space, place, and the body. Her work examines the basic human need to acquire territory as a prerequisite to identity, as well as the loss of security and anxiety that comes with disorientation. Functioning on the assumption that orientation is primary to all other human experience, the body plays a central role in her art practice as both a mechanism for experience and as the principal terrain that we all initially acquire. Her work eagerly engages with the idea of personal geographies as intimate approaches to orientation and identity that are profoundly detached from collective knowledge and public geographies. ”
A stunning collision of tactile, CMYK color, the work of London’s Evelin Kasikov lies squarely between object and image—a seamless combination of craft and design. After spending a decade working in advertising, Kasikov decided to expand her scope as a graphic designer by incorporating embroidery techniques into her work. Her approach to the craft is analytical, using her well-developed typographic skill set, grid systems, design techniques to challenge the preconceptions of embroidery as a system of making. Kasikov’s basic process is to map out the composition for each project, then she hand-stitches each image with a cyan-magenta-yellow-kohl breakdown, similar to offset printing processes. The resulting work is graphically rich, and brings an element of handwork back into the graphic design process—something that adds a layer of complexity and humanity to work that would otherwise be purely computer-generated.
Lauren DiCioccio uses a simple needle and thread on cotton muslin to mummify and honor an endangered artifact– the printed newspaper. In each piece, as The New York Times’ text fades, its correlating cover portraits puncture the surface with pockets of strung together color, reminding us of a certain tactile human unraveling as we adaptively wave goodbye to the Industrial Age.
Of her craft, DiCioccio states, “The tedious handiwork and obsessive care I employ to create my work aims to remind the viewer of these simple but intimate pieces of everyday life and to provoke a pang of nostalgia for the familiar physicality of these objects.”
Stephanie Tillman‘s designs match a subject, often an animal or two, with a matter-of-fact line of text. She applies the imagery to postcards and prints, but the embroideries are the most successful in capturing a sense of earnestness behind them. All handmade by the artist herself, each piece is permanently glued to a flexihoop — such a great touch as a frame — and finished with fabric to hide the stitching on the back. Available through her Etsy store.
Robert Fontenot’s sculptures, made out of bread dough, present the viewer with extremely humorous, yet severely violent worlds. He’s the author and designer of three books. Two of which are about the histories of ancient mythologies and the other of which is an illustrated history of performance art – that is, in my opinion, far more entertaining than Roselee Goldberg’s classic Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present. However, skillfully sculpting the human form’s most revealing gestures is not Robert Fontenot’s only mastered practice. He also has an ongoing series, where he embroiders textiles, as well as another project entitled Recycle LACMA – in which he buys deaccessioned items from the museum at auction and then turns them into items of use. For example, he transformed a Brocade evening dress into a fully functional fanny pack. If you have your wits about you, then it won’t take long to recognize the awesomeness of Robert Fontenot’s work.