Michelle Kingdom, an artist based in Burbank, California, opts for hand embroidery as her mode for communicating the hallucinatory visions of the mind.
Each of her works synthesizes images from disparate sources — memories, photographs, literature, personal mythology, art history and imagination. Only measuring, on average, eight square inches, Kingdom’s vibrant visions act as a peephole into an another world, offering up cryptic narratives flattened out and sewn up.
“While the work acknowledges the luster and lineage inherent in needlework, I use thread as a sketching tool in order to simultaneously honor and undermine this tradition. Beauty parallels melancholy, as conventional stitches acquiesce to the fragile and expressive,” the artist says.
It’s true. The word “embroidery” comes with baggage; more often than not it evokes images of crocheted tea towels and twee cushion covers. But over the last few years, a new generation of textile and mixed media artists have been using both machine and hand stitch to challenge these preconceptions; they often honour traditional techniques but use them in combination with more contemporary mediums or methods to create artwork that is original and refreshing.
“My work explores 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 Literary snippets, memories, personal mythologies, and art historical references inform the imagery; fused together, these influences explore relationships, domesticity and self-perception.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. Decidedly small in scale, the scenes are densely embroidered into compressed compositions. ”