My OBT

What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

Embroidered Psychology

8 Comments

Michelle Kingdom

“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 Literary snippets, memories, personal mythologies, and art historical references inform the imagery; fused together, these influences explore relationships, domesticity and self-perception.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!

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

8 thoughts on “Embroidered Psychology

  1. Interesting. Not sure about some of the titles but sure she has a reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those are beautiful, modern works…I love them! I’ve never met a person in real life that didn’t think embroidery was an “old lady craft.” I find that hysterically funny, as I started teaching myself to do it when I was 10. Now I’m 46, and STILL everyone I know thinks it’s “not a real art form.” I’m not entirely sure how embroidery got such a bad rap (which your artist alluded to), but I love seeing talented fiber artists smash those assumptions into a million pieces!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I confess didn’t really understand its possibilities as an art form until I started coming across embroidery artists for the blog. I love seeing what they can do with it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I researched yesterday on why embroidery isn’t given much respect in our era. In ancient history men used to do embroidery, and one theory is that it’s downfall came when it became “woman’s work.” Another theory is that at one time only the nobility has access to embroidery, due to the expense of fibers and relatively few artisans with skill to create it. Once it became available to the common people, no one thought it was special anymore. I tend to think your story is the most accurate version of what’s happened in modern times: most people have zero exposure to it, other than perhaps their grandma’s old tea towels. This is the reason why I’m always pushing embroidery artists to put their work in county/state fairs; even if no ribbons are won, people will SEE embroidery art, and with enough exposure maybe it’ll begin to be appreciated it for the amazing art form it is.

        Thanks to your post, I went down a wonderful rabbit hole of the history of embroidery last night…it was a lovely exploration!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad! I love a good rabbit hole.

        Liked by 1 person

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