We’ve all heard the huge buzz on the Internet about PUSH Stitchery, curated by Jamie Chalmers (aka MrXStitch). Every trendy stitcher has jumped on the bandwagon. Is the book really that good? Do we each really need a copy? I’ve finally had a chance to study the review copy I received from the publisher, Lark Crafts, and my answer is YES! Absolutely. You need this book.
Jamie’s intro does a masterful job of capturing in a few words the purpose and value of PUSH Stitchery. In part, he says,
From needlepoint and cross-stitch to quilting and applique, artists today are re-appropriating traditional techniques and making new statements with them. Conventional styles are being combined with new influences to create subversive pieces; stitching becomes a tool for exploring angst, rage, sexuality, and for examining social phenomena…Each time someone pushes the boundaries, it opens creative space for other people to explore, and the movement continues. In an increasingly electronic age, stitchery provides a tangible documentation of contemporary culture, and the creations of today are our future heirlooms and artefacts.
So, as you would expect, the work of the 30 artists highlighted in the book is extreme–in technique or theme or materials. Cayce Zavaglia “paints” realistic portraits in thread. Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene cross-stitches traditional motifs on objects ranging from shovels to cars. Clyde Olliver stitches on stone. Penny Nickels’ repertoire includes shisha-stitching found objects. Bascom Hogue’s pieces combine intensity of stitch with both naivete and sophisticated social commentary. Diem Chau applies her stitching to porcelain. It’s hard for me not to catalog every single one of these 30 amazing artists. Each turn of the page not only inspires awe at the skill of the artists and the content of the art, but also drives the reader to the studio to create, innovate, stretch.
If you’re like me, you’ll spend hours just absorbing and studying the images. When you’re able to quit staring, you’ll discover that the book also includes brief biographies of each artist and short interviews that offer greater insight into their intentions and processes. It’s a book I will come back to again and again. If you don’t have a copy, go get one. Now.
PUSH Stitchery: 30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Stitched Art. ISBN 978-1-60059-787-9.
By Denise Felton