Embroidery might not be groundbreaking or new, but the craft is clearly having a moment. We're not talking about the circular pieces you might see your mom working on right before she goes to bed—this embroidery shows up on photographs, metal objects and even human hands.
We've come a long way from grainy photos with splashes of colored embroidery; see more on Design Observer
Embellished photos date back to the turn of the century, originating as a simple method of adding a personal touch to mementos. We've come a long way in terms of art and photography, but this trend is still making appearances in modern art and design—sometimes on photographs, and other times on our own skin.
More recently, artist Diane Meyer has developed a more contemporary take on embroidered photography, effectively 'pixelating' regions of photographs into geometric 'averages' of the colors there. The result is a kind of handcrafted 'artifact,' both in the sense of a meaningful object and the degradation of a compressed digital image file.
While Meyer's work makes use of the objects featured in the photographs, New York-based artist Melisssa Zexter lets her imagination take the wheel on her designs. Her work focuses adding sketch-like overlays of string to photographs. Zexter's work is a little more whimsical than Meyer's, from the cartoon-y curlicues to the all-over patterns that create an illusion of viewing an image from behind a piece of lace or a curtain.
Moving away from the photography side of embroidery alterations, we've got Lithuanian artist Severija Incirauskaité-Kriauneviciené—the most recent feature on Colossal's growing archive of embroidered projects. Severija takes traditional embroidery patterns—the very ones you might catch elderly relatives working on in the wee hours of the late afternoon—and applies them to metallic surfaces like tin cans and spoons. By punching small holes into the objects, she makes it easy to transform everyday objects into found objects worthy of a double-take.
The final twist on embroidery is not for the weak of stomach. Eliza Bennett, a British artist, has made a mockery of the phrase "women's work" by turning her own hands into a canvas. Besides creating amazing works of embroidered art on canvas, she take the medium to her own body in an attempt to bust the myth that women's work is easy work. The series, titled "A Woman's Work is Never Done—Flesh/Thread," is a bit shocking at first. But if you look closely, the thread is woven just under the first layer or two of skin, making this a semi-painless exhibit.
And, in case you haven't sufficiently gotten your embroidery fix (and need to get those last images out of your head), here's a video following the process of an embroidered portrait artist. Because that's a thing... and it's really cool.
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