The works of Gillsville, GA based artist Stacey Page comprise half of Youngblood Gallery's current exhibition, Crossbred Thread: Ego and Memory, though they hardly take up any space on the wall. Starting with found portrait photographs just a few inches in size, Page uses a needle and thread to expand on the image, creating stunningly precise works of texture and color that blur the line between sculpture, drawing, and embroidery.
Seeing the photograph manipulated in this way, it is hard to fathom the portrait without her additions, as if her thread released a spirit animal or vision that had been lying latent in the image all along. Page was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work and process for CL this week.
When did you start working with embroidery? Was it something you learned growing up?
No, I started working with a needle four years ago, beginning with larger yarn type tapestries similar to bargello work that I would drag along for quite some time as some kind of diary. Then a year later I moved to a very fine needle and thread with the photographs.
What's your background?
I am originally from out west, but I have spent the same amount of time here in the south. I did study art professionally for two years, but I am mostly a painting major drop out. After getting out of the city, I became interested in folk and outsider art, starting out with the face jugs in North GA.
Where do these photographs come from? Are the names you've given them fictional?
The photographs mostly come from obscure auctions in the backwoods of Georgia which in themselves can be more bizarre than the art itself. The photographs are extinctions or discarded, and I don't begin by having any relation to them. At the time we are done, I know them by name, which is given.
What's your process for creating the image? Do you start with sketching?
I stare at a photograph for quite some time throughout the process, and the relationship develops. I like to think of the relationship as a respectful one, but I do have to admit at times one is an enemy. I use the copier to sketch, playing with possibilities in color and stitch. The sketch sometimes changes with the embroidery, and there is a nice history of my friend's transformation. The dialogue is most entertaining and at times frustrating as it is very easy to lose a photograph.
The scale of these works is remarkably small, almost like each stitch is a tiny hatch mark.
Yes I enjoy small-scale works as I can take the with me as I am working, and they do not take up too much space for me or a collector.
Crossbred Thread: Ego and Memory, featuring work by Stacey Page and Stephanie Blair, continues at Young Blood Gallery until June 25. More details at Young Blood.
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