Cadaver Embroidery


Tonight I’m putting the final touches on my diptych for the graduating seniors art exhibit. It’s a pair of embroidered pieces–studies from a cadaver, a hand and a pair of feet. I’m sure that any actual embroiderer out there would be horrified, not only at my choice of subject matter, but at my haphazard stitching technique. I’ve taken to calling it scribbling, since that’s essentially what I’m doing. I like it though. It’s a lot less fussy than other kinds of stitching, and believe it or not, I do carefully consider the placement of each stitch before I lay it down. I feel like this style is a good embroidered adaptation of my actual drawing style, which tends to be pretty scribbly in nature.

I won’t lie, I do have some reservations about putting such a macabre piece in the senior show. I could have put my seafood triptych, or my honeybee, or any number of innocuous print pieces that are more technically sound than this embroidery. But those would have gotten lost in the crowd of other innocuous print pieces that will no doubt be included in the show. And I want my last piece at this school to stand up and make people take notice. I think that a cadaver study rendered in embroidery will probably do the trick.

These pieces also do a better job of representing me personally than I believe my prints would have. Lots of people in our department are printmakers–to my knowledge, I am the only embroiderer. And I’ve always had a fascination, not with death or dead bodies, but with bones, muscles and tendons. I love seeing the way they fit together, the way they make us move. There’s a sort of beauty in the way our tendons wind through our knuckles that has always really resonated with me. So while I do wonder about the choice to display a cadaver drawing, I can’t deny that the subject matter is an accurate representation of my interests.

I’ll post actual pictures tomorrow once they’re finished. Right now it’s late, and I still have stitching to do.

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