ARTIST STATEMENT: My cross-stitch artworks are about rethinking craft as art, craft as feminist and craft as a tool to address contemporary women’s issues – reproductive health, body image and gender roles. My art aims to modernize the feminine identities and ideals commonly portrayed within embroidery. They seek to reclaim cross-stitch as a tool to promote progressive ideas about modern women’s issues.
Historically, embroidery played an important role in preparing a woman for marriage. Young, single women cross-stitched “samplers” to show off their domestic skills, scholastic knowledge, cultural values or religious morals to prospective husbands. Samplers exemplified these desirable traits to potential husbands who sought a woman with the right skills to establish a household. Our predecessors needed to stitch to attract a husband or keep a household. My
artworks reject the typical, domestic functionality of samplers, taking into account current events relating to women’s health and reproductive debates.
It takes a fully comprehensive look at the body and reproductive tools available to
women, and the commercial packaging and weighted political underpinnings too. By using traditionally domestic mediums, like cross-stitch, I hope to address and change the conversation about the role of women and mothers, highlight ideas of what it means to be a modern woman today and to maintain this historical craft practice.
Cross-stitch was used to advertise and represent women’s role as a female and a mother but bodily functions, roles and autonomy was not part of this textile practice. Until the invention of the pill, women were expected to only have children within marriage and a wife’s sole purpose was to bear children. The contrast between the historical domestic cross-stitch, its implied gender role and the birth control lies at the heart of why women’s reproductive rights are still a hot topic issue – reproductive health is still not wholly considered appropriate in such a feminine sphere.
This role and function changed entirely with the pill and the passing of Roe v. Wade. What’s more is that even today acceptance of birth control as an active and essential part of modern women’s lives is lacking. This explains why as writer, Jay Michaelson put it, “Sandra Fluke, was shamed as a slut for defending the right to control her body.” Even the Hobby Lobby US Supreme Court case, shows that even a for-profit business can have more say in a woman’s access to healthcare than the woman herself. My “craft” series directly challenges this. It also challenges the domestic sphere that has contributed to so many ingrained discriminatory and limiting social reproductive mores, but takes on a bipartisan approach by showing how both can positively operate together in order to support women’s reproductive freedoms.