The Storied Stitch: Tamar Stone

Tamar Stone is an artist featured in “The Storied Stitch” a show of embroidered narratives at the Azarian McCullough Art Gallery, March 31 through April 19. She will be giving a talk at the Closing Reception, Sunday April 19 at 3pm.

“…for as much technology that we have now to use, some issues concerning human behavior never change.”

Striking to behold on first viewing, Tamar Stone’s work deserves longer investigation to reveal the wealth of information that it contains.  Beginning with historic texts from sources as varied as doctor’s pamphlets, women’s magazine advice columns, and children’s lessons, Stone highlights conflicting messages of health, beauty and duty that have barraged women for centuries. Personal narratives from diaries and other first hand sources of the time are interwoven with these texts, allowing us to see the direct impact of society’s pressure on real women’s lives. Stone binds all of this together in objects of suppression; the bed, a location that symbolizes the singular responsibilities of a woman as mother and homemaker, and the corset, an object to bind and perfect the wayward physical body, to conform to society’s ideals of beauty.

in her own words

“Because my work talks about the lives of women throughout history, I tend to work with vintage and antique textiles, pieces that have a certain “history” in them (either implied history, or actual/fact driven history).”

“My work tells stories of women’s lives that have been constricted by their various situations throughout history, sometimes due to their clothing, sometimes due to the social mores of their time. These stories unfold in a non-traditional way via pages that are pieces of antique textiles – corsets, or layers of a bed.”

“Although my materials are somewhat non-traditional, I do create a narrative, that uses traditional layers of “pages” to tell a story, one that is connected with a spine (and in the series of corset books, the “spine” plays an important part in being corseted together). Also, I chose to use embroidery in my work, as I wanted the text to be part of the fabric, as the stitches were literally coming out of the fabric, allowing the fabric to tell the story.”

Things Girls Like to Do

“An example of this is can be seen the “housekeeping” doll bed, “Things Girls Like to Do” – a project that was built around finding sheet music that contained a song (as well as pictures) of little girls making a bed – and the music to sing by while doing it, therefore creating a pleasant surrounding for what would become a lifetime of future manual labor. In addition, the stories on the bed also encompasses the history of exercise for women/girls.”

“There was a time where exercise for women was considered dangerous to their well being (by taking “energy” the body needed for nurturing a fetus) – the fact that women had been doing manual labor throughout history and by various classes – was not addressed at that time. However, as clothing and social mores were becoming less restricting, so was the physical activity for girls and women, and slowly the idea of taking exercise as a form of ‘good for your health’ became slowly accepted. In this case with the ‘gymnastics’ of making a bed, the exercise of the muscles, was considered to be ‘useful.’ “

Caution & Counsel

“In the corset piece ‘Caution & Counsel’ the text that is given both adult women and children come from magazines of the times, as well as etiquette and health & beauty manuals – all which give conflicting advice. Ironically, although the specifics maybe be different, in our current times, women and girls are barraged with mix messages about beauty and their place in society. I find this type of social history fascinating, for as much technology that we have now to use, some issues concerning human behavior never change.”

Tamar Stone has a background in photography and film. Her work has been exhibited internationally and has been collected by numerous libraries and universities. She lives and works in New York City.


For more information and examples of the work of Tamar Stone, visit her website: