Art and embroidery are getting closer and closer, as I wrote recently about Documenta. Here are my favorite embroidery artists, to be discovered on Instagram.
5 embroidery artists, 5 styles
It hasn’t been easy to select 5 artists, just five. Until a few years ago, embroidery played only a marginal role in contemporary art. Then artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Sophie Calle and more recently Francesco Vezzoli, imposed on the general public this medium. Since then, the number of embroidery artists doesn’t stop grows.
There are many different ways to work on embroidery, and that variety is easily confirmed looking at Instagram and Pinterest. However, there is a common point among this crowd of artists: technical expertise and revolutionary messages as clearly expressed by Gucci’s Art Director:
I love taking prints, embroidery, appliques – precious things that seem to be from another time – and using them to create a contemporary, new story.
– Alessandro Michele
These kinds of artworks gave to the interior spaces and decor an unique twist.
Since 1760 the toile de Jouy is a typical French decor representing monochrome pastoral scenes on an off-white background. Richard Saja worked on this monochrome motive adding embroidery to change radically the meaning of the scene: traditional, contemporary, just adorable.
Sequins, pink, and…monsters. The poetical language of the Finnish artist Ninni Luhtasaari explains perfectly the contemporary approach to embroidery: grace and deformity at the same time. So, now, what is pretty? What isn’t?
Adipocere from Australia works mainly with black and white thread on natural linen. She talks about the representation of women as witches, with all the symbols related to, as cats, goats, skulls in a very romantic, melancholic and delicate way.
Rick Rodriguez is a Brazilian artist with a very delicate and poetic way to talk about a dreamy domestic universe. Working on different support, such fabric, plastic, paper Rick uses an extremely reassuring language, proposing alienating but strangely familiar images.
In every respectable nineteenth-century novel, there is at least one scene in which one of the female characters embroidered. Embroidery, weeping, and fainting is the starter pack of the stereotype of female weakness. But what was in the pas a symbol of submissiveness became recently a very strong tool to fight for feminism and female self-esteem.
Kate Walker´s attitude is characteristic of contemporary feminists’ determination not to reject femininity but to empty the term of its negative connotations, to reclaim and refashion the category:
“I have never worried that embroidery’s association with femininity, sweetness, passivity and obedience may subvert my work’s feminist intention. Femininity and sweetness are part of women’s strength. Passivity and obedience, moreover, are the very opposites of the qualities necessary to make a sustained effort in needlework. What’s required are physical and mental skills, fine aesthetic judgement in colour, texture and composition; patient during long training: and assertive individuality of design (and consequence disobedience of aesthetic convention). Quiet strength need not be mistaken for useless vulnerability”.
― Rozsika Parker,
The work of Sophie Ring represent perfectly this nouvelle vague of embroidery and I should admit that I really love what Sophie does, for both aesthetical and political reasons.
Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that – one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery.