I like the action suggested by the statement “by a thread.” Of course, without a verb, it also suggests something surreal–as if the thread itself was animate. And in a way, thread is active for a time–put in motion as it is drawn through the fibers. Thread always feels “alive” to me and I think this is partly due to the way it reflects a certain kind of labor and human presence. Embroidery and stitching, similar to other handcrafts, have been readdressed in recent years, with a coterie of artists reinvigorating the conversation and using the technique not only for its tactile or visual appeal but also as a way to touch on issues of labor, gender, handcraft, consumerism, notions of the decorative, time, individual and collective memory and personal history. This has happened all the while those who may have embroidered as a “pastime” continue to do so, creating an interesting dialogue across groups of people who have not always been engaged. Whether or not an artist learned how to embroider or stitch in their youth is always an interesting question–personal experience through several exhibitions would suggest that many (but not all) are indeed drawing on earlier memories or techniques learned (whether specifically embroidery or not). The following are just a few of those working the needle in some interesting and thought-provoking directions…(sorry there are not details for all, trust that these are as luscious as you think they might be.)



Anna Lorich, Embroidered Pillow Rings (Cloth, thread and cotton)


Recyled Ring’s Edith Cameo Brooch on Etsy



Angelo Filomeno, My Love Sings When the Flower is Near (The Philosopher and the Woman), (2007, Embroidery on silk shantung stretched over linen with crystals; 150 x 90 in.)





Stacey Lee Webber, Fancywork (one dollar bills and thread)





Yu-Chun Chen




Xiang Yang, Here and There




Reddish Studio, X-table (wood and thread)



In a way this is an indirect homage to anyone who has revelled in pattern as a combination of shapes, lines, colors, forms and textures (including those ca. 1970s who made the words “Pattern and Decoration” into a so-called movement). But this is also thinking about pattern as a “device” that can be both beautiful and a little sinister (a la Charlotte Perkins Gilman and her yellow wallpaper). Pattern that is enchanting yet, perhaps, also, claustrophobic. Invigorating yet unhealthy. Appealing yet constricting. Pattern (as both abstract concept and physical construction) can be flexible, covering anything–a body, a wall, a floor, a vase, a piece of paper–and playing tricks with the eyes and mind. It can both define and obliterate, emphasize or belittle. The following do not just explore the idea of pattern or the history and significance behind certain designs but they use pattern as something fluid, something that crosses boundaries metaphorical and actual and that establishes unexpected relationships.

Stephanie Liner, Gibbosity, 2006, fabric, wood, paint and live model

Andy Jordan, Polymer Girl, 2004, upholstery fabric and PVC

Andy Jordan, Pica with Stella, 2003

Claire Coles, Wallpaper/Room Scene

Claire Coles, Wallpaper Brooches

Astrid Bowlby, ink on paper installation, 2006

Megan Auman, Living Room, 2006, powder-coated steel, 60 x 80 x 80 in.

Susan Lee-Chun, Facade (The Figurative Kind), 2006, fabric and polyfill, dimensions variable

Anne Polashenski, Lowry Faux Pas Obliteration (Little Boy’s Suit of 1860), 2006, C-print and gouache on paper, 18 x 18 in.