Ema Shin is a Melbourne-based mixed media artist.
“Ema Shin’s work presents body organs and flowers as symbols of her life and emotions. Her work incorporates tapestry, mixed media embroidery, printmaking and paper-mache and presents mental and physical experiences and the fecundity of the female body.
“Since her first child in 2014 she has combined her arts practice with daily life, working in a home studio to produce works of domesticity that celebrate women’s lives and bodies. Shin aims to create compositions that express sensitivity for tactile materials, the contemporary application of historical techniques, physical awareness, femininity and sexuality.“
Ema’s work is fascinating on so many levels. From a technical standpoint she combines a myriad of needlework types to produce these soft versions of organs and body parts. Woven surfaces are embellished with cross stitch and beadwork; freeform textile pieces are appended to surfaces to bring the pieces to life. The progress pictures that she shares on Instagram are a great insight into the construction of her art.
By recreating these elements with textiles, Ema gives us the chance to study them without aversion, and to appreciate the magnificence of the natural form. While there is definitely some creative licence, these pieces are fairly accurate, and so we can gaze upon Daphne’s heart and connect with the embroidery, the anatomy and ultimately the narrative behind the work.
Ema Shin’s recent work is collated in the Soft Alchemy project; an extremely apt title as it not only reflects the technical alchemy but acknowledges the magic with which a selection of fundamental elements are combined by nature to create lungs, nervous systems, skin and more. Were these organic elements presented to us on a platter we might be repulsed, but Ema arranges them as abstract art pieces and gives us the freedom to admire them.
We can gaze with wonder at Ema’s work and recognise the power and beauty of our own physical creation. And in doing so, maybe we can take time to be thankful for our very being. It’s a rare treat when this happens and it’s one of those ways in which textile art can guide us past our preconceptions to more meaningful moments.
The Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery. Committed to changing the way the world thinks about needlecraft.