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The Storied Stitch: Megan Canning

Megan Canning 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.

“Hand-embroidery is my primary medium because sewing literally pierces the ‘skin’ of the paper or canvas, yielding an orderly, clean surface and a messy, chaotic underbelly – just like the skin is a calm and placid exterior that masks the messy inner workings of the human body.”

With one look at Megan Canning’s anatomical embroidery, canvas can easily be seen as the skin of her work. Thread illustrates our inner workings, while text reveals our emotional composition. Memories are assigned not just to the brain and heart, but to the mouth, the genitalia, the cells. Human experience becomes physical, scientific, emotional, and beautiful.

in her words

“The human body is a source of inspiration and fascination, as it is the instrument of our lived experience — both where and how we collect implicit and explicit memories. My interest in the body grew out of an interest in memory and how we are profoundly influenced by our interactions with others, carrying those experiences with us, like smells, sounds, touches, etc.”

“I want to surprise, challenge, and enthrall the viewer with embroidered interpretations of what is actually hidden inside themselves; inside their own bodies lies a beautiful universe that is wholly unfamiliar to most of us and yet it is fundamental not only to our survival, but also to how we experience the world around us. Everything we know of the world we live in is interpreted, communicated and recorded through our physical bodies.”

Megan Canning is based in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA in Painting from Hunter College and a BFA in Art Education from Ohio University. Her work has been collected and exhibited nationally, and featured in several publications including The New York Times, Art World Digest, Mr. X Stitch and SciArt in America. Canning has taught embroidery at the Textile Art Center in Manhattan and runs a popular community knitting group called “Knit+Wine” in Brooklyn.

For more information about the work of Megan Canning, visit her website: megancanning.com

and blog: blog.megancanning.com

The Storied Stitch: Katrina Majkut

Katrina Majkut 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 Opening Reception, Wednesday, April 8 at 5pm.

“I’m not creating art for art’s sake, but art with a social purpose and function…”

Most familiar in the context of traditional American samplers, cross-stitch is laden with connotations of the woman’s role in the home as mother, wife and caretaker. To challenge and expand that role, Katrina Majkut introduces images of women’s reproductive health, symbols of the contemporary woman’s ability to take control of her body, her rights and her future. What once may have depicted bible verse or family lineage, Majkut’s 21st century “samplers” elevate products that allow for reproductive freedom. Her feminist approach to a stereotypically “feminine” craft embraces women’s history while forging ahead.

in her words

“I think it’s important to be open-minded when it comes to what cross-stitch is as a medium and social art. Cross-stitch can be so much more than its stereotype as a domestic, lowbrow, folk craft, or one that’s limited to asserting outdated ideas of what it means to be a woman. It deserves more respect than it typically gets.”

“In my experience most viewers have very pre-formulated, subjective opinions about certain reproductive products without any direct personal experience or sometimes proper health education. I’m very honest in depicting the products as they are; whatever bias it carries is brought by the individual viewer. It’s important to understand that all these products provide a basic medical and biological need for women – there is no reason for this preset bias. The debate over reproductive healthcare comes down to the fact that some people don’t separate the physical needs of a woman with how they think she should conduct herself as one. My cross-stitch aims to eliminate this unfair gender bias as a way to better understand modern women’s needs and to increase the viewer’s acceptance of the necessity for reproductive freedoms.”

Katrina Majkut is located in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a BS in Business Administration from Babson College, Wellesley, MA, and a Post-baccalaureate certificate and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University. Founder of The Feminist Bride, Majkut writes, lectures and exhibits regularly on the topic of women and feminism.

For more information about the work of Katrina Majkut, visit her website: katrinamajkut.com

The Storied Stitch: Orly Cogan

Orly Cogan is an artist featured in “The Storied Stitch” a show of embroidered narratives at the Azarian McCullough Art Gallery, March 31 through April 19.

“The tableaux I create are inspired by relationships. They evolve from the personal mythologies of my memories.”

On a vintage tablecloth, a life is laid bare. Beginning with needlecraft of women of bygone eras, Orly Cogan sketches revealing contemporary scenes of women. She brings a quick and vibrant hand to a slow and meticulous craft.   The juxtaposition of old and new embroidery techniques allows us to intuitively feel the progression of time in the work. Layers of images lay atop simple designs of the vintage textile, showing the many sides and complications of relationships as they build from a simple beginning. Cogan’s willingness to expose her strengths and flaws, moments of ecstasy and those of mundanity, make her work both intimate and inclusive.

in her own words

“I add my own confidently clean, embroidered drawings to the handiwork of stitching culturally associated with women practitioners and decorating the home. [The linen] becomes the vehicle for imagery that is run through by the erotic and the intimate. The figures are present in the way a child perceives the world, wholehearted, engaged, uninhibited, and reliant on the senses.”

Orly Cogan lives and works in New York City. She was educated at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and has a BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her works has been exhibited internationally including exhibitions at the Carl Hammer Gallery, in Chicago, IL, the Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, and the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

For more information about the work of Orly Cogan, visit her website: orlycogan.com

The Storied Stitch: Michelle Kingdom

Michelle Kingdom is an artist featured in “The Storied Stitch” a show of embroidered narratives at the Azarian McCullough Art Gallery, March 31 through April 19.

“Beauty parallels melancholy, as conventional stitches acquiesce to the fragile and expressive.”

Like waking from a dream, Michelle Kingdom’s work leaves an impression of place and story, but only upon contemplation can a personal meaning be revealed.   Each small scene hints at a larger narrative, like a forgotten snapshot found at a thrift store. The open-ended story Kingdom begins invites the viewer to create with her, completing the narrative in the context of their personal history and experiences.

in her own words

“My work is about the human experience; how we live our lives, the stories we tell ourselves, the history we choose to pass on or leave behind. [It] is an exploration of psychological landscapes, illuminating thoughts left unspoken. I create tiny worlds in thread to capture elusive yet persistent inner voices. Literary snippets, memories, personal mythologies and art historical references inform the imagery; fused together, these influences explore relationships, domesticity and self-perception. Symbolism and allegory lay bare dynamics of aspiration and limitation, expectation and loss, belonging and alienation, truth and illusion.”

The small scale and fluid hand of the embroidery lend a further level of intimacy to the work.

“The work always starts with the lengthy process of formulating and developing the concept. Research and sketches are continually refined and reworked, eventually being transferred onto fabric and then executed in thread. The stitching is done quite intuitively and each piece stays in flux until the very end.”

Michelle Kingdom lives and works in Burbank, California. She earned a BA in Fine Art from UCLA, focusing on drawing and painting. A self-taught embroidery artist, Kingdom has been creating for two decades, only recently exhibiting her work nationally.

For more information about the work of Michelle Kingdom, visit her website: michellekingdom. com

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: tamarstone.com

The Storied Stitch

Embroidered Narratives by

Megan Canning

Orly Cogan

Michelle Kingdom

Katrina Majkut

Tamar Stone

curated by Carla Bellisio

March 31st through April 19th at the Azarian McCullough Art Gallery

Needlework has a rich history in America. From early native Americans to the first European colonists needlework has been used both as a record and as a means of communication. Family history and traditions are remembered in needlecraft, embroidered details communicate messages of status, wealth, and beauty. Modern needlework may utilize the same techniques, but the message has been broadened. The Storied Stitch provides a space for that message. Here we see traditional techniques in uncommon contexts, reminding us of our past while exploring current issues. We also see the stitch pushed beyond the familiar shape, stretching and sketching and living in a new form. What begins as an intimate craft results in work that reveals a narrative both personal and universal.

 

Megan Canning brings sensuality and movement to a normally staid subject matter, the anatomical illustration.

Inspired by the artful inner workings of the human body, Canning reveals the beauty in the scientific.   The tongue becomes a landscape of fiery taste buds, the heart revealed as a pulsating muscle as well as the keeper of our desires. The physical and emotional body is shown to clash and harmonize, illuminating the art in the mechanics of humanity.

Embracing and challenging traditional female roles in society Orly Cogan stitches her dynamic tableaux on vintage printed and embroidered household linens. Using found tablecloths as canvas, Cogan explores and subverts feminine archetypes and stereotypes, often making herself and other characters from her life the subject. Her vibrant contemporary thread drawings contrast the regimented pattern and stitch work of the linen’s previous era, and the woman who stitched it. The art of embroidery connects these women through the generations; Cogan’s evocative subject matter breaks from the expected creating a dichotomy that is humorous, thought provoking and exciting.

 

Cinematic, dreamlike and evocative Michelle Kingdom’s embroideries are tiny worlds unto themselves. Each composition is a single frame from a narrative, one which the viewer must create. Her works shine with an inner voice, and their small scale brings the viewer in close to listen to the message. The thread is used as a sketching tool, making images kinetic and alive. These psychological landscapes open the way to explore personal mythologies, memories and relationships.

 

Using a traditional and familiar embroidery technique Katrina Majkut challenges expectations with her provocative images. Majkut references conventional women’s roles as mother and wife through her use of cross-stitch, a technique often associated with domestic skill and moral values. To reinvent these themes, she focuses on images of women’s reproductive health, sparking discussion of women’s rights, the role of government in women’s health, and the effect on social mores. Majkut’s feminist approach to a stereotypically “feminine” craft embraces women’s history while forging ahead.

 

Inspired by braces worn to correct her childhood scoliosis Tamar Stone focuses on the history of female body image and the methods used to “correct” imperfect female forms. Themes of constriction, correction and rigidity can be seen throughout her work, in reference to both the physical forms of women and their place in society. Advice concerning health, beauty and etiquette is taken directly from vintage magazines and embroidered onto cloth pages, then bound and buttoned, the spine of the book laced tightly into a vintage doll corset. Although the text focuses on a bygone era, the message resonates in contemporary society. By exposing and highlighting the ill advice of yesterday’s society, Stone challenges us to reexamine the beliefs we hold today.

 

 

The Storied Stitch at the Azarian McCullough Art Gallery

March 31st through April 19th

 

A welcome reception will be held on Wednesday April 8 from 4:30 to 6:30, with an artist talk beginning at 5:30 that evening.

A closing reception will be held Sunday April 19 from 2:00 to 4:00, with an artist talk beginning at 3:00 that afternoon.

 

Gallery Hours are Monday through Thursday, noon to 2:00 and by appointment. Call (845) 398 4195 or email amag@stac.edu to schedule.
For more information go to stac.edu/amag

 

The gallery is located at the base of Costello Tower on the campus of St. Thomas Aquinas College, 125 Route 340, Sparkill, NY.

The college can be reached by Metro North to Tarry Town or bus to Sparkill. Taxi service is available to reach the college campus.

Bio

Carla holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University, where she received the Bess Kimberly Award for achievement in costume design.  She earned a Certificate of Technical Hand Embroidery from the Royal School of Needlework in England, and intends to continue her education there in the Diploma program.  She currently resides in New York City.