Pricked: Extreme Embroidery

Museum of Arts & Design

poster for Pricked: Extreme Embroidery

This event has ended.

Samplers, table cloths, tea towels, and party dresses often spring to mind when the word “embroidery” is invoked, but the forty-eight international artists highlighted in Pricked: Extreme Embroidery tell a very different story. Pricked is the Museum of Arts & Design’s latest exploration into how centuries-old handcraft traditions are rejuvenated in the mainstream of contemporary art and design. The artists are both men and women from 17 countries as diverse as Romania, Egypt, Wales, Mexico and the Netherlands, as well as the U.S.

Chosen to showcase the diversity of approaches to this standard needleworking technique, the works in Pricked: Extreme Embroidery also convey powerful and personal content that ranges from subjective dreams and diaries to controversial politics in today’s world. The works are individually arresting, provocative, satirical, and humorous.

Pricked: Extreme Embroidery follows the success and international acclaim of the Museum’s exhibition Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting, which premiered earlier this year at MAD and is now on an extensive tour to other art museums. Like Radical Lace, this new exhibition is poised to change the way the public views the contemporary evolution of an ancient art.

Works by artists of the caliber of Maira Kalman and Elaine Reichek are shown alongside works by emerging artists such as Andrea Deszö of Transylvania, who records aphorisms and warnings received from her Transylvania mother in a series titled Lessons from My Mother. In addition, works by designers such as Mattia Bonetti document the use of embroidery techniques in the sphere of design.

In addition to fibrous materials like cotton and wool, artists and designers employ the unexpected ranging from stone to digital prints to human hair and cosmetic skin peels. A North Carolina artist, Nava Lubelski, explores the contradictory activities of spoiling and mending by stitching over spills, stains, and rips she finds on tablecloths, napkins, and canvas. The artist uses canvas stretchers as her embroidery loop, and the wooden strips are often visible through the mended tears.

The artists in Pricked use embroidery as a means to reflect, both internally, and on the outside world. Dutch artist Tilleke Schwarz stitches the subconscious; dreamlike scenarios, fleeting thoughts, and imaginative imagery recorded on cloth. In Fast Machine, 2006, Benji Whalen embroiders tattoos onto a wall-mounted, stuffed arm. For the exhibition, the artist has created a large installation of hanging tattooed arms, each with imagery alluding to alternative culture and art.



from November 08, 2007 to April 27, 2008


Maira Kalman et al.

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