"Some of these pieces stretch the definition of embroidery a bit, but the phrase 'embroider the land' [in the show's title] just felt right," says [Jody Clowes].As a curator specializing in craft media like ceramics, metalwork and textiles, she says, "I've been taken with the resurgence of interest in embroidery, and I hadn't seen a show dealing with embroidery here in the Midwest." She cites the New York show Pricked: Extreme Embroidery, which ran at Manhattan's Museum of Arts and Design in 2007-08, as an inspiration in terms of its edgy take on a traditional form."It was embroidery of someone's European vacation," he says. "I don't know how long ago [it was made], but they came back to the Appleton area and commissioned someone there to make embroideries on a tablecloth, with little medallions" depicting scenes from their travels. "That's what got me interested."
Embroidery and cutting-edge contemporary art may seem like strange bedfellows. Unless you do some form of needlework yourself; embroidery probably sounds old-fashioned, corny or kitschy.But just as knitting has undergone a popular revival in recent years - spawning books for alt-crafters like Stitch 'N Bitch by BUST magazine founder Debbie Stoller - needlework techniques are being adopted by fine artists looking to confront contemporary issues.So don't think samplers, sunsets and puppi...