follow it down

I’ve been doing quite a bit of embroidery and I am planning to start making things to sell soon. (“Soon” = probably not for a few months.) I could use the money and I enjoy embroidery quite a lot. It’s very pleasing to sit for hours stitching. If you don’t believe me, behold below the internet-sourced collection of embroidery I have scoured in a few obsessive fits.

Thanks to an article posted to ArtInfo about the Whitney Biennial, I found out about Elaine Reichek‘s work. The writer in me (“writer” + “me” = verbose, self-important, insatiable) really appreciates her use of quotes from friends, family, and literature. I also really like the cultural anthropological feel to her work, that is both intellectually and visually stimulating.

Detail of "Sampler (Scarlet Letter)", 1996. Hand embroidery on linen. Elaine Reichek.

Mr. X Stitch’s blog is a bit overwhelming for me. In a lot of ways. Here’s a bit of a sampler (oh yeah, embroidery pun): The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge. Really, I can’t even pick one image. There are so many talented artists posted to this blog. Embroidery as Art is another great embroidery blog, especially as an approachable and inspiring introduction to embroidery.

Mira directed me toward Kate Kretz and Erin Endicott’s embroidery. I had been thinking about hair embroidery because of how all my life I’ve been very interested in hair, to the extent that I collect hair in jars. (Although, for the record, no pubic hair.) And then I got the link to the hair embroidery of Kretz and it made me all the more excited to try it out sometime.

Oubliette 1 (detail), 2006. Human hair embroidery. Kate Kretz.
Healing Sutra #3. Hand embroidery on antique fabric stained with walnut ink cut to pattern of child's dress. Erin Endicott.

Husband found an article on Huffington Post about Kathy Halper’s work, which has a sense of humor and ugliness about its content that I can appreciate.  She uses images from Facebook that teenagers post of themselves, and it’s paired with text that heightens the kind of grotesque absurdity of the images. They’re not very visceral, though. Mostly outlines. At first this turned me off a bit, but considering the subject, it seems really appropriate. Most of the images include teenagers engaging some kind of sexual, pseudo-sexual, or intensely physical activity, implying a kind of hedonism, and yet there’s nothing truly sensual about what they’re doing. The images and the text are generic, belonging to anyone and no one.

Girl just have to accept. Kathy Halper.

I love the way Joetta Maue creates a kind of sentimentality that feels sincere yet lacks presumption. Admittedly, sometimes it goes a little too far for me, but that’s okay. My favourite pieces of Maue’s use a variety of fabrics, creating an odd sense of texture and space. But who doesn’t like embroidered handwriting? Only robots. Poorly programmed robots. So there’s quite a number of charming pieces on her website.

8 months, 2011. Hand embroidered, appliqued, and painted re-appropriated linen with found cloth. Joetta Maue.

There’s more, but I feel like I should stop now… until tomorrow.

Easy A

Last night I went to see Easy A with Husband and a friend. It’s basically a movie about how Olive (Emma Stone), a girl with a pretty non-existent/good girl reputation became the school slut all because she lied about having sex once, which then escalated into more lies and corsets with red. Since it’s a comedy – and based on the previews – I assumed it would be a very glib, light-hearted representation of School Slut mythology. Although I’d love to see a well made movie about this subject, I completely accepted the fact that this was not that movie. Besides, I have a crush on Emma Stone, especially after finding out her middle name is Jean. She’s not a true redhead, but I can forgive her for that. Some women were just not meant to be blond. (Or, in the case of Lady Gaga and Tori Amos, brunette.)

So, back to the point, this isn’t criticism so much as it is observation and notation.

If this were a documentary and not a Mean Girls-esque movie, Olive would not just be teased and ridiculed by a small group of super Christians. It would not just be one horny guy trying to force himself on her and lewd gestures at one party from a small group of guys who sheepishly stop doing it after a few seconds. It would be worse.

People that she’s never talked to before will write “SLUT” in lipstick or permanent marker across her locker. They’ll ask her if she really blew the whole football team in the locker room after practice, just so they can have the pleasure of laughing at her to her face. They’ll blame her for break-ups. They’ll casually grope her breasts or ass while passing her in the hallway, and if she complains they’ll say she shouldn’t dress like such a whore. They’ll say she wants it. And she’ll never be asked out on a date because “she’s the kind of girl you have fun with, not the kind you date or take home to mom”.

Maybe that was all years ago and things have changed, but I would bet an orgy with a basketball team that it still goes on everyday in schools all over the country. Not just high schools, either. Fourth, fifth, sixth grades… things can start getting ugly really quickly.

I won’t get into what actually happened in the movie too much because it’s new and there are probably many people who haven’t seen it, or even heard of it yet. Despite some really dramatic moments acknowledging the consequences of (sex-related) lies, the movie maintained a sense of humor. I can always appreciate that.

The only thing that bothered me was that the movie made a big deal about Olive lying and that it was her fault and her responsibility to clear everything up, and yet there was little to no accountability for the people who lied and spread malicious rumors about her being a “dirty skank”. Now, in my opinion those people don’t matter anyway. There will always be those kind of people. Haters, you might say. And a lot of decent kids behave that way just because they get caught up in what’s going on. You can create (weak) connections with other people by talking shit about a common enemy. If you’ve got some fresh gossip, people will crowd around you and listen closely to every word. It doesn’t even matter if it’s true.

Still. How about a little acknowledgement of responsibility from the rumor mill? How about, “I’m sorry that I didn’t listen to you when you tried to tell me you didn’t sleep with that guy,” or, “I’m sorry I told everyone that you blew three guys at a party”? Sure, she blurred the boundaries of responsibility a whole lot with her clothing, her attitude, and her lies. But roles are not something created by one person.

At least she ended her ‘This is how it really happened’ live webcast with something to the effect of how it’s no one’s business who she has sex with or how often.