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Thread, images, and vision « MAD Blog
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Thread, images, and vision

To View an artwork is to listen in on the conversation the artist has had with the material she or he used to realize their vision of the world. In a museum, as we have the opportunity to compare artworks, those individual conversations between thought and materials broaden into a dialogue of diverse ideas and the infinite ways to achieve them. Last Sunday as embroidery artists Hoa Pham and Hoa` Thai Pham stood in front of Devorah Sperber’s After the Mona Lisa 7 they were noticeably amazed and excited by that incredible diversity. Hoa Pham and Hoa` Thai Pham, representatives of La Than Imperial Embroidery, had travelled from Vietnam to demonstrate traditional Vietnamese needlework at the Museum of Arts and Design. The materials are the same in both the La Than Photographs in Thread embroideries and Sperber’s After the Mona Lisa 7. They both translate existing images into thread.

When speaking at the MAD Second Lives Symposium, Sperber explained she is interested in the way we accept an image as truth, even when we know digital images are constructs of pixels that can be manipulated and altered. She uses spools of thread, as a unit like the pixel, to recreate images and challenge us to question what we take for truth.

The La Than Photographs in Thread are like meditations on the photographs selected by La Than founders Jennifer Ha Than and Lawrence Gooberman. The collaboration between the embroiderers, nature, the photographers, and the La Than founders is complex and not one easily understood by a modernistic western art perspective with its emphasis on individualist creative expression. Ha Than, who comes from a family of fine embroiderers, draws inspiration from the centuries-old tradition of great Vietnamese embroiderers that have translated important cultural images into embroideries. Gooberman is a environmentalist interested in preserving land for its ecological, scenic, and cultural importance. Gooberman and Ha Than select nature photographs of beautiful, precious, endangered places, which the embroiderers translate by careful, slow, laborious, needlework into large layered embroideries of silk, cotton, and wool. When asked what they are thinking as they sew, Hoa Pham and Hoa` Thai Pham replied they are imagining what it would be like to be in the place. They imagine so truly one can almost feel the mist and see the play of sunshine. Hoa Pham and Hoa` Thai Pham hope people with influence and power will see their work and be moved to value and preserve the beauty they see for us in nature and their work.

When Sally Morgan of Morgan Lehman Gallery joined the other panelists at MAD in the discussion, Living in the Blur Zone: Art, Craft, Design, and Creativity, she pointed out in the uncertainty of the economy buyers are valuing work that combines deep personal meaning with a careful, skillful treatment of materials. Morgan suggests it may be a time to revisit our ideas of beauty and truth. As I watched Hoa Pham and Hoa` Thai Pham’s reaction to Devorah Sperber’s After the Mona Lisa 7, I thought there is more these artists share than the materials of thread and re-purposed imagery. They are asking us to rethink our cynicism and our relationship with beauty and truth.

 
 
  • Miley

    I think that today is awesome day because i am at the art museum here and it is totally awesomely cooler then my house and my cousins house

  • Art Beck

    Layers upon layers.

    From the secret order of a natural setting unseen, to the sense of awe that inspires a photographer who happens upon it, to an artist’s interpretation in thread, to the feeling of awe in a patron viewing the work in a gallery.

    And beneath it all are the unconscious workings of a human mind tuned, for reasons we do not understand, to respond aesthetically… which is itself as much a work of nature as the original scene.

    Layers upon layers.


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