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about Thread Portraits

:: Rifle Targets ::

JAPANESE WOMAN :: This is my mother on her wedding day to my father. They both dressed in traditional wedding attire. This portrait was made for an exhibition about immigrants to the United Stated entitled "And Liberty and Justice for Some" in 2017
ABSTRACT STITCHING :: These were an attempt at an abstract family tree. Each hoop is an immediate family member [me, my daughter, my husband and his parents, my parents and their parents/my grandparents]. For each person I choose colors that I thought represented them, and a stitch that related to them somehow. For example my mother-in-law is a taurus and so I used the Bull Stitch. The stitching itself indicates the birth or death date of the individual.
RED PORTRAITS:: After doing a series of anonymous girl portraits showing the backside of the embroidery, I decided I should do a series of self-portraits. So I used 10 years of wallet sized photos of myself [and one with my family] and included the features
YELLOW PORTRAITS:: this series was done for the exhibition tattered cultures mended histories. I did a series of portraits, me, my mother and 2 grandmothers with our places of birth/residence. This was the explanation for the work: For this show I am completing 4 portraits using embroidery as my means of drawing. I am the product of a mixed race marriage - my mother is Japanese and my father is Jewish Caucasian. I have often wondered exactly how these two cultures intersect and how they have both influenced and converged in me. I wonder what significance our birthplaces have on us. I wonder how my life differs from them as women and wives.
The embroidery is on a very sheer silk - silk being a material that the United States frequently imported from Japan until World War II [a link to how my mother was 'imported']. The sheerness of the silk allows me to show both the front side and the backside of the embroidery simultaneously. I have long been fascinated by the 'wrong'/ backside of embroidery - I often display it as a final state - as the front. It begins to symbolize what we hide and what we reveal - and is, to me, lovely in its rawness. I also leave long threads - these can symbolize many things including the time spent working. I also am drawn to the line that separates ugly and beautiful. The long threads accumulate in that space for me - looking like decay, or tears, or wear, and simultaneously adding dimension, movement, beauty, and evidence of the hand. The sheer silk is stretched in vintage yellow embroidery hoops over drawings that map each individual's country of origin. Their state of birth will be highlighted as will the current state of residence.. I'm thinking here about patriotism, cultural roots, the similarities and differences of nation building. In researching this project I learned that my mom and maternal grandmother were born in the same prefecture; that my grandmother didn't feel like she ever had a "home" until the state of Israel was created; that although I was born in one state I feel no ties to that region and think purely of California as my home. I also choose the color yellow as I find it to be a link in my mixed heritage. Yellow was used to connote both the Jews in Europe where my grandmother's ancestors are from and as a derogatory term for Japanese/Asian people. Other historical links such as concentration and internment camps bind the 2 cultural halves of me. I'm hoping that in the creation of these portraits I will feel re-connected to the women in my family. I wonder if I will find other connections while I stitchÉ.