Embroidery As Fine Art

Embroidery, the art of forming decorative designs with hand or machine needlework, has been around nearly as long as clothing itself. Evidence shows that Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Phoenicians and Hebrews used embroidery for decorating their robes. The Moors also decorated much of their clothing with embroidery. They had a style of their own which spread to other countries like Spain and Sicily. Moorish embroidery greatly influenced many European countries. But embroidery, most often associated with decoration, was rarely defined as fine art on its own. Today, however, the medium is just as commonly used for artistic statement as it is for embellishment.

When I discovered embroidery artist Christa Maiwald a couple of weeks ago, I was astounded by the depth of her embroidery works - much of it centered on political statement and the ideology of popular culture. Not only is the work technically excellent, it is also relevant and meaningful.

I was tickled to see that she had embroidered a large image of Martha Stewart, which you can see below.
Closer inspection of the embroidery reveals the large blocks of colourful pattern in the threadwork itself to achieve the full image.Loose pieces of thread give the finished work some movement and vibrancy.
This embroidered work is called Ho Chi Minh Watching You. Effectively creepy!
I love the clarity of the blue in this piece, called Eating Disorder.
Christa Maiwald also embroiders lampshades with images of celebrities as animals. I believe that's a depiction of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as leopards with their "brood" on the left. I think that's Madonna on the shade on the right.

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