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Knotwe is an emerging hub focused on the intersection of craft, art, design, technology and tradition in fibers, textiles and surface design. 

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The Embroidered Image Robert Mann Gallery

           Hagar Vardimon, Climbing, 2012 © Hagar Vardimon, courtesy Robert Mann Gallery, New York

The Embroidered Image

@ the Robert Mann Gallery 525 West 26th Street, Floor 2, New York, NY 1001

www.robertmann.com

This week a show that lit the New York skyline in the fibers world will be closing this Friday, August 15th. We hope it is one of many more to come that showcase the diverse range of contemporary artists who have emboldened not only the embroidery world's imagination but represent a, dare we say it, movement, well afoot of contemporary artists utilizing the conceptual strengths and mark making splendor of embroidery on photo images. The show's curator Orly Cogan selected an international brew of artists who are each working and drawing the thread through images in their own distinct way. The exhibition at the Robert Mann Gallery is well worth the visit for multiple reasons including sheer inspiration. There are pieces in the show that are cleverly mounted such as the works of Mathew Cox and Pinky/MM Bass who both touch on the biological image as  backdrop for their technical feats of embroidery goodness. Artists Flore Gardner, Melissa Zexter and Jose Romussi create stunning works that use pattern as an overlay that Photoshop can never compete with however adept it is at hyper-aestheticizing the image. And speaking of the pixelated subject, the work of Diane Meyer terrifically disperses stitch like a blanket of blurred memory or identity obscured by anonymity. 

The Robert Mann Gallery and Orly were kind enough to let Knotwe poke around and we reached out to a few of the artists featured in the exhibit to ask each one question. We owe thanks to the artists below for their terrific responses to our sometimes light and sometimes heavy questions

Jessica Wohl

Q: If you were on an island and the only mark making tool you could have was either a needle and a thread or a pen, which would you chose and why?

A: I would bring a needle and thread because it would probably come in handy not only for art-making, but also for functional purposes. I could connect things together with it. Fix my clothes. Not to mention, it's more permanent than a pen, and I could continually reuse it. Plus, what good is a pen if you don't have any paper? It'd be a lot easier to draw on some leaves with a thread than it would a pen- I think!

To see Jessica Wohl's work visit www.jessicawohl.com

Diane Meyer, Mauer Park, 2012 © Diane Meyer, courtesy Robert Mann Gallery, New York

Diane Meyer, Mauer Park, 2012 © Diane Meyer, courtesy Robert Mann Gallery, New York

Diane Meyer

Q: Is the consideration of technology or digital data in relation to your handwork in mind when you embroider? 

A: I was interested in using the embroidery to create the effect of digital pixelation as a means of making a connection between forgetting and digital file corruption. The images represent places where the Berlin Wall formally ran through the city and surrounding suburbs. While there are some indications of where the wall once stood- marks on the sidewalk, new construction or vegetation, street lamps facing the wrong way, etc- the wall is mostly absent and exists in the weight of history and memory. The embroidery is often the size and shape of the former wall barrier, but is represented as an embroidered area of pixelation in the existing landscape. I was also interested in borrowing the visual language of digital imaging in a very analog process.

To see more of Diane Meyer's work visit www.dianemeyer.net

Jose Romussi

Q: The embroidery is often operating as overlay on a female form that is sometimes nude, is embroidery an intervention on the body or images of femininity? 

A: Intervention is a mix of both, I intervene an image according to what it gives me, by chance most of the time have been pictures of women, but this does not mean that my work only typecast in this kind of images. 

Each photo inspires me differently, but most of the time is the same line. My interventions emerge according to my interests, I'm living stage and changes they've been through, this makes him a figure of reinterpretation, another aesthetic. Use elements that keep the feminine aura like flowers for example, but they can be used for any human figure regardless of sex.

To see Jose Romussi's work visit www.joseromussi.com

           Melissa Zexter, Veil, 2013 © Melissa Zexter, courtesy Robert Mann Gallery, New York

           Melissa Zexter, Veil, 2013 © Melissa Zexter, courtesy Robert Mann Gallery, New York

Melissa Zexter

Q: When you are stitching and in a zone with the image and the thread, how would you best describe that experience?

A: The process of sewing may not be so different than other artistic processes which require time and patience.  Sewing involves a lot of concentration and coordination.

For me, working with embroidery can be transformative and Therapeutic. It can also be frustrating because of the time that is required to finish a piece.  I would not describe sewing as relaxing, because there is a lot of mental energy involved and often uncertainty about whether the piece will work out in the end.

My experience varies depending on the piece I am working on.  There are times when I have a very specific pattern/ drawing in mind before I begin and there are many other pieces that I construct and invent as I am working on them.

The funnest part of my process is taking pictures.  Photography is my true love. I love the immediacy of digital photography and the element of surprise of analog photography

Working with photography and embroidery allows me to connect the past and present. Photographs stop time and serve as a souvenir or memory of a time that has passed, or act as a document of a place or person. Hand sewing allows me to react to a moment – the photograph – and alter the memory. Hand sewing alters time. It allows me to draw with a needle and thread, to create curved lines and to create an intimacy between the object, the viewer, and myself.

To see more of Melissa Zexter's work visit www.melissazexter.com