Aubrey Longley-Cook has lived in Atlanta for the past three years, slowly stitching a name for himself. Longley-Cook works in embroidery - mostly small, hoop-shaped works that simultaneously recall and reject the viewer's notions about what to expect from domestic forms. His work has been shown at MINT, Young Blood, as part of Axiom, and he returns this week to Eyedrum, to show as part of MondoHomo's art exhibition. You can keep up with his embroideries and thrift-store collecting at Spool Spectrum.
When did you start embroidering?
I was nineteen and in school at the time. I went to school for animation, actually. I was learning all the techniques of that and in this early stage where it was technique driven and low on creativity. Embroidery was this outlet that I could do more personal work. I found it calming and meditative. All of the projects I was doing, I wouldnt show it to people as much or bring it to a class. It wasnt my focus at all, but it blossomed into being equally as important. When I graduated, I decided to just pursue that.
In the FORM anthology that came out last year, you mentioned that your mother influenced your decision to start embroidering.
She did needlepoint when she was pregnant, both with me and my siblings. I think, for her it was a nesting, very maternal type of thing. Obviously, she was a child of 70s. It seems like everybodys mother was doing needlepoint back in the 70s. I have one of her pieces on my wall and its quite lovely. It was about heirlooms, which was initially how I was approaching it. The work was so personal that it made sense to give to siblings, for wedding presents and that sort of thing.
When did it move beyond that?
I started looking on the internet to find other, similar artists, because its not the most common thing. I was very surprised to find as many artists out there as there are. Its an incredible online community of different stitchers. Theres this one guy called Johnny Murder who lives in Portland. Hes coined this term, manbroidery, about men that embroider and just that movement of masculine stitch-work.
Ive always found that to be whats really alluring: using a male perspective on a traditionally female art form and using that as a platform for queer art as well.
Why do you think embroidery works for queer art?
I think its like I said before, the contrast of a masculine perspective on a traditionally female form. Beyond that, the fact that its such a domestic act, theres something submissive about it, but none of these are really the right word. Theres something very held back about it, the size of the pieces, and how its about texture. Its so different from a sculptor doing giant brass or bronze sculpture thats such an out-in-the-world, giant statement. You have to come to it. You have to approach it on a subtle level.
What can you tell me about your process?
It comes down to the repetition. That draws me in the calming nature of each individual stitch. Theres something about just the speed of it. It brings you to that level where the world recedes and the hoop itself is the focus. Theres something calming and beautiful about that. The process becomes sacred, almost like youre channeling something.
Your latest series, Runaway, seems to combine animation with embroidery.
Yeah, now Im coming back to that, bringing those two passions together. With the dog series Im taking inspiration from the internet, animated GIF culture. Those are incredibly time consuming, drawing frame by frame. Like, I have to keep the frames to a small amount. Right now Im doing a series of fifteen for the dog. Ive been working on that project since February [laughs] and its going to be a one-second loop. So, Im condensing five months of work into one second, but it will loop for infinity.
Mondo Art opens at Eyedrum on Thurs., May 27 at 6 pm.
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