“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 Literary snippets, memories, personal mythologies, and art historical references inform the imagery; fused together, these influences explore relationships, domesticity and self-perception.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.”– Michelle Kingdom
My typical post style is to introduce the artist, maybe say where they trained or how they came to work with their materials or how their work came to my attention, then to include, when possible, a quote from the artist. Today, I’m flipping that format on its head for one good reason. I had no earthly idea that embroidery artist Michelle Kingdom’s work had such hidden depths. I just thought they were beautiful. Boy, do I feel like a dope.
So here’s what I learned about Kingdom. When she was attending art school in the early nineties, the art world seemed entirely daunting and unattainable to her. She knew she had talent and she knew she wanted to be an artist, but the proliferation of large-format, sardonic-themed art combined with the pretentious I’m-cooler-than-you art scene put her off. (Who could blame her?) Luckily for us, since she grew up in a family that sewed regularly, she hit upon the idea of painting with thread instead.
“Embroidery also comes with a lot of baggage. It has often been dismissed and overlooked; perceived as decorative, a school-girl craft, fussily old-fashioned, small. And that is precisely what attracted me to it.”
That just makes me like her more. And while she may have started down the embroidery road out of a mistrust of the fine art community, I imagine she probably figured out pretty quickly that she had found her medium.
You can see more of Michelle Kingdom’s deeply satisfying work on her website and Instagram. Her work is also being shown at the Foley Gallery in NYC’s Lower East Side through February 1. See you there!