Friday, June 12, 2009

renewed media: needlework

We here at magpie & whiskeyjack (and before anyone protests the 2nd person plural, I will stipulate that 'we' refers to all bloggers, feminine or feline, who answer to the name minouette) are fond of the multimedia, love the idea of reinterpreting what was one 'women's work' as high art, and have immense respect for the stitchers - the masters of embroidery, quilting, cross-stitch and other needlework. This post in particular, though, is specifically inspired by Mr. X Stitch, who has come to my attention as a new guest blogger on the craftster blog. He describes himself thus, "Mr X Stitch is a manbroiderer, cross stitch designer and runs, the number one contemporary embroidery and needlecraft blog on the planet." I don't know who determines the ranking of embroiderers, or their blogs, but I do recognize a tremendous capacity for finding and sharing some of the delightful, talented, creative and edgy contemporary work in this field - this corner of the craft movement, with a great sense of humour. You should read him too. He began his guest posts with a series of men, as he is a (ringleader? cheerleader?) proponent of the 'manbroiderer'. I might have been tempted to trace this movement back to Second Wave Feminism and artists like Canadian Joyce Wieland who deliberately began employing traditionally female handiwork in the 60s to reclaim these traditions as part of 'art'. However, seeing needlework embraced by both genders is wonderful. What could be more feminist than the removal of a gender-imbalance or bias in any field?

Orly Cogan, 'Busy Barbie', 2004, hand-stitched embroidery and paint on vintage tablecloth, 50" × 50"
So without further ado, get thee to the sites of some of these talented, contemporary artists! Here are a couple of his picks, and you can find more here or here. {Note both of these artists produce needlework which is probably NSFW}.

The work of Orly Cogan is playful mixing the erotic and the mundane, vintage textiles with new needlework, traditional subjects like embellishment of borders with vegetation and decorative animals with sex and bodily functions. Thus, the selection below is not-quite-representative, and work I deem a little more adult can be found on her site.

Orly Cogan, 'Natural Habitat'

Logan McLain is a contemporary, Irish, male, textile artist, or as he puts it 'AKA Feckin' Emboydery'. His work is irreverent and relates to morality and religion, tackling racism and homophobia, with humour intact. Also, there are a lot of corvidae.

Detail of Logan McLain's 'I Heart The Black Babies'


  1. what an awesome post!

    i've been thinking more and more lately about needlework as art, and wishing that i had the time and energy to work on more of my own pieces. thank you for the inspiration!

    (and i love mr. X stitch, i've been following his blog for a while now, in addition to being a member of Phat Quarter on flickr. so much amazing work!)

  2. Hey crafty Amy,

    Thank you!

    I find I see it more and more - various forms of needlework as art and multimedia work involding some embroidery. Also, I see embroidery and cross-stitch with really contemporary, edgy or political messages. I have enjoyed for some time... but reading mr. X stitch makes me want to start stitching onto prints or paintings, mix it all together.

    Love to see what needlework art you come up with!




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