Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Cayce Zavaglia

Cayce Zavaglia's needlework embroidery pieces are some of the most beautiful, yet haunting artwork I've ever seen.  I would love to see her work in person.  I can only imagine how much more intriguing they would strike me.  A wonderful article was written about the artist and her technique in this month's  Elle Decor, which I highly recommend reading if you have a passion or interest in human expression via art and/or textile creations through needlework.  The latter is what really gets me.  I hand sew often and have been tempted lately to dive into a completely new style; a modern freestyle type of quilting.  When I came across these images in the magazine my jaw dropped.  So realistic!  And without a paintbrush used.

Cayce earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wheaton College in 1994 and Master of Fine Arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis, MO in 1998.  She got her big break in 2008 when her dealer, the New York gallery Lyons Mier, took several embroidered portraits to the PULSE art fair.  All sold in the first two hours.
Cayce was always an arts-and-crafts kid and while she studied in college said her canvases were full of "gobby" paint.  She still considers herself a painter, because it's difficult for her not to see her work as "paintings".  Her method to creating such intimate, life-like portraits employs using crewel embroidery wools, however the technique is more similar to painting or drawing.  She describes the technique as "pointillist", layering stitch over stitch.  She estimates a large work using thousands of stitches to achieve the image with 80 to 100 colors of crewel wool and takes about six to seven months to finish.  Over time she has perfected her technique to mimic her subject's exact skin tone, hair, and clothing.  Her stitches have become tighter and more complex to create this illusion sewing over and over to give depth and volume.

In her words, "Using wool instead of oils has allowed me to broaden the dialogue between portrait and process as well as propose a new definition for the word “painting”.
Images via artist's website.

1 comment:

Megan Joy said...

Wow..these are stunning!