Grace Willard - Crawl Space

Grace Willard | Mixed Media

Arteries - exploring embroidered expressions with Arlee Barr

As an artist who focuses on the small parts of the natural world, Grace Willard‘s work fascinates with its attention to detail, her reverent depiction of the infinitesimal that surround us everyday. Incorporating her own handmade papers, and fibre and textiles, with hand and machine embroidery, she creates delicate portraits of the unseen, the ignored, the flora and fauna we take for granted.

Grace Willard - Magnitude 7
Grace Willard – Magnitude 7

“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.”
William Blake – Auguries of Innocence

Embroidery is my favorite media.  After I graduated from college in 2005 I  started adding some very simple stitching to my drawing – but it wasn’t until I worked as a Collections Assistant at the Henry Art Gallery here in Seattle that embroidery became a major focus in my work .  While at  the Henry I had the honor and privilege of photographing some of their extensive textiles collection for the DIG project.  Every day I would see historical handwork from around the world and would leave inspired and determined to put that kind of beauty & craftsmanship in my own work.

Grace Willard - Winter Ambrosia
Grace Willard – Winter Ambrosia
Grace Willard - Geophagy
Grace Willard – Geophagy

I have a terrible case of biophilia – I’m desperately in love with living things, especially organisms that seem particularly responsive to the presence of humans. I’m always moved by animals and plants that make the most out the environment no matter how much we’ve altered it or how much we’ve altered them.  I do have an immediate attraction to my subjects, but they aren’t always readily visible.  I think being able to see them takes a shift in perception and I never know when that’s going to occur.

Grace Willard - Despite Your Wishes
Grace Willard – Despite Your Wishes
Grace Willard - Oak Gall Interior
Grace Willard – Oak Gall Interior

Stitching, crochet, and needlework are associated with domesticity. Rarely are “pests” considered domestic, although people share their living spaces with them. It’s amazing to think that creatures like centipedes were around way before people began making domiciles, yet we view them as intruding our space.

Grace Willard - Crawl Space
Grace Willard – Crawl Space

Right now I’m working on a project called My Microcosm: Portrait of the Interurban Biosphere which  launched last week on KickStarter. My work has focused on micro/macrocosms for some time now, but now I’m interested in exploring communities of living things that can’t be seen with the naked eye.  One of my goals with this project is to start bringing the community into my artwork – I’m signed up for training in field investigation and hope to include other people (especially young people!) in my biological discoveries and how I integrate that into my artwork.

I post updates on new work/exhibits/projects on my WordPress site, Voir Dire/See Say.

More of my artwork can be seen on my Flickr page.

“The ability to see beauty is the beginning of our moral sensibility. What we believe is beautiful we will not wantonly destroy.”
Reverend Sean Parker Dennison


Arlee Barr is a Canadian artist, working primarily with textiles. She describes herself as “curious, eccentric and just a little opinionated“. Surrealist in thought, Fauvist at heart, Arlee likes the eclectic, explorative and absurd. Sprinkled around the interwebs, she can be found hanging around her fantastic blog and shop.

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