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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Being Perceived’ not your grandmother’s embroidery

    “”It’s funny you should say that,”” artist Scott Ellegood said as he smiled at the reference to his craft. “”That’s often how I describe my work to people. This is not your grandmother’s embroidery.””

    And it really isn’t.

    In fact, upon first glance, you wouldn’t think the portraits on display in the UA’s Joseph Gross Gallery were anything other than snapshots. Sure, maybe the color has been manipulated, or a little hardware collage was added for effect, but they certainly look true-to-life.

    On closer inspection, the viewer finds a truly unusual approach to the creation of these disconcertingly familiar faces. Each one is embroidered on linen by hand, in a stitch known as “”buttonhole”” that can be found on at least one article of clothing you’re wearing. The threads range from flesh tones and shades of gray to violent reds and guilty greens. The pieces are not of a material origin; each composite image is pulled from found or taken photographs and digitally rendered in blocks of color. From these pixilated pictures, Ellegood begins the process he calls “”painting with thread.””

    Even more impressive than the physical creation of these works is the host of expressions and meaning behind each pair of staring eyes. The stark conceptual contrasts embodied in each individual are familiar to most; the features to which Ellegood calls attention make the viewer stop and stare in a moment of recognition of a person who doesn’t actually exist. Nonetheless, the viewer can relate to the emotions evoked by Ellegood’s work.

    “”The audience experiences a personal connection, without an actual connection,”” Ellegood said.

    Of course, the artist also has quite the connection to the works; many are reinvented self-portraits. His “”Self Portrait as Titania, Queen of the Fairies”” and “”Self Portrait as Lady Macbeth”” depict Ellegood posing as the fabled feminine figures, complete with imperfect pearls and dramatic design. The expressions they capture are exquisitely expressive, without the tedium of painful detail. They allow a window into the artist’s world. Ellegood has been described as a “”rare male”” for pursuing his medium of choice. Though embroidery is typically classified as docile craft, Ellegood’s interpretation brings about biting self-confrontation, one needle stitch at a time.

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