Embroidery Art For the 21st Century

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Embroidery might sound like an old grandma’s kind of pastime but if you look a little deeper into it, you’ll find that it’s actually a fascinating art form that requires a lot of skill. These days, embroidery is experiencing a renaissance, with many contemporary artists getting into it.


Lace is used contemporary artists using needlework instead of painting. Two talented lace artists, Laura Owens and Angelo Filomeno, have created beautiful works.

Filomeno’s picture of a skeleton, stitched silk shantung with metallic threads and adorned with crystals, is an explosion of opulence.

Owens’s chinoiserie motivated flowering tree embroidered on tussah silk is more discreetly luxurious. Filomeno, a former tailor’s apprentice, and Owens, who trained with a painter, have eroded the distinction between the fine and the decorative arts.


Another medium for artists is silk using delicate wisps of silk, cotton and artificial thread on translucent muslin.

One well-known modern artist Ghada Amer has made creations that raise eyebrows around the world.

Amer has replicated definitions of the word fear from English, French and Arabic, a nod to the experience in all three civilizations, the text is partially obscured by dangling threads. Some artists trust the charm of lace to revive tired topics, not always successfully.

While the works exaggerate the indignities of the pixelated digital reproduction, they don’t add much to the originals. A few of the most intriguing works reinvigorate the tradition of the sampler, a piece of lace which offers a religious or moral saying.

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