Australian artist Meredith Woolnough uses embroidery to create her delicate and intricate depictions of different plants. With some thread and a sewing machine, she forms different complex patterns found in nature, such as the veins of a leaf, patterns found in coral, and even lines and shapes found in red cabbage. Each fragile piece displays the small beauty found in the fine details of nature. What would be small, fragile beauty that the average person may overlook, Woolnough finds inspiration. Patterns from shells, petals, and lily pads are given new life in each breathtaking piece. The artist treats her artwork like specimens, as she carefully pins them under glass in shadow boxes for display.
Using vibrant colored thread, she builds up a density of embroidered patterns that become almost three-dimensional. In some cases, like in her embroidered bowls, the work really does have volume as it holds the shape of a bowl. Because of the method in which the artist creates her work, it demands an intense patience that can be seen as meditative. The repetitive patterns and natural quality of Woolnough’s work is like that of a Mandala, holding sacred qualities.
The work maps the frameworks of the various veining systems found in nature to create work that explores the balance, harmony and connectivity of life on Earth. Inspired by the patterns, structures and shapes found in plants, coral, cells and shells Meredith’s embroideries represent both the robust beauty and elegant fragility of life.
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.
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.”
Artist Josefina Concha, with the aid of a sewing machine in lieu of a brush, weaves her work into being. Full of texture and threaded messy shapes of color, her stitching fascinatingly harkens back to Mark Tobey’s thoughts on abstract expressionism: “A painting should be a textile, a texture. That’s enough! Perhaps I was influenced by my mother. She used to sew and sew. I can still see that needle going. Maybe that’s what I’d rather do than anything with the brush-like stitching over and over and over, laying it in, going over, bringing it up. Bringing it up. That’s what is difficult.”
However, of her own approach, Concha strives not just to simulate, but replace painting with crafting techniques, a medium formerly equated primarily with domestic labor. She explains, “The building of my work is articulated through the investment of a material (the thread) on a piece of cloth, and the time dedicated to sew it. This is made visible in the superimposition of weaves that in short will generate a thickness (body) and a sensation of volume, dominated by the treatment of color and optical mixtures, to which I turn to with the eagerness of creating suggestive images that appeal to the ephemeral.”