Stitched Stories at Center for Book Arts

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday July 8, 2009

Tales of romance and revenge, and even the everyday stuff of life, have become fodder for artists who take up needle arts to create narrative art. Tonight the Center for Book Arts opens its annual Artist Members Exhibition, with 35 works by 38 artists using threads of different kinds.

On display are prints, books, sculptures, installations and videos, that combine texts and textures in new and meaningful ways. The work ranges from an intimate accordion book done in inkjet and letterpress printing by Edyth Skinner to a sculptured "prayer paddle" that measures eight feet in length, done in wood, fabric and paint by Tanya Hartman.


Left: Leak, by Dianna Frid. Right: Common Threads, by Candace Hicks.

Andrea Deszo, whose embroidered pieces were recently seen at the Museum of Art and Design is represented here with six pieces from the Lessons From My Mother series. While these sayings and nuggets of advice might seem old fashioned, and sometimes totally off the wall ("My mother claimed I am an alien"), in style and substance they make a strong connection to the artist's Romanian heritage and its folk art traditions.

Chicago artist Dianna Frid tells the tragic story of the sinking of the USS Thresher, a nuclear submarine that went down in 1963. Creating a book from artists' canvas titled Leak, she machine stitched the narrative in eloquently designed red letters. The story can be read four pages at a time through the ghost image of the letters reading, in reverse, through the fabric.

Iviva Olenick counters the pace of life in the digital age by adopting a time-consuming and artistic mode of expression, namely, embroidery, to create a prequel to blogging. Were I so Besotted documents her experiences of dating, in the slow lane.

Vananda Jain whimsically skewers the ubiquity of corporate branding in Logo Alphabet. Embroidered in bright colors on 18-inch squares of linen, the AT&T logo stands in for the letter A; the Girl Scout logo replaces the letter G; and, well, you get the idea.

In a strategy designed to appeal to the failed diarist in most of us, Candace Hicks adopts the graphic style and the size of dime-store composition books to create 10 separate volumes, each with the cover pattern rendered in a different color. Every book tells a unique story, and all are linked by the commonality of design and the medium of stitchery.

Threads: Interweaving Textu[r]al Meaning opens July 8, 6-8 pm and runs through September 12th. The Exhibition was organized by artist Lois Morrison and Alexander Campos, Executive Director of the Center for Book Arts, 28 West 27th Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY. 212.481.0295. Please check the website for information.

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