Susan M.

Embroidery was a childhood activity that I re-learned much later. Drawing I’ve done most of my life. On paper tablecloths at church suppers, blackboards, green boards, white boards; on lined notebook paper, in the margins, around the edges; on brown paper bags and archival surfaces. Drawing is big and wide; it’s hard to imagine real limits. In contrast, hand stitching is often a slow accretion of marks. It can be carefully executed or random and careless. I like both ways of working. The humble origins, simple, accessible techniques, and quiet physicality appeal to me. 

I move back and forth between drawing - with traditional materials, in sketchbooks and on large pieces of paper tacked to the wall – and stitching, usually on smooth, tightly woven surfaces that suggest an affinity with paper. I’m curious about what might emerge via an interplay of spontaneous approaches to drawing and a slower, restrained, accumulation of stitches. At times I find a bridge between the two; more often it is the slippage in translation that interests me.

These hand-stitched drawings are small, albeit vague, narratives, some personal and unashamedly nostalgic. Less visible is the background research that connects my history and interest in embroidery to a larger world:  private domestic lives, the ways that household practices relate to public expectations, the interface between what’s inside and what’s out. I like to pause to enjoy what’s interesting or beautiful about ordinary things: simple, domestic pleasures, the value of repetitive work. The landscape where I live also provides a theme and resource. I draw in response to its complexity, color, texture, the feeling of a particular moment, then stitch in response to a drawing, always trying to keep intent in check in order to maintain an openness to what unfolds.