The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Kate Kretz

Welcome to the Cutting (& Stitching) Edge - the best textile art in the world

Welcome to the Cutting (& Stitching) Edge, where we showcase people whose embroidered creativity is fresh and new!

Kate Kretz is a textile artist from Washington, D.C. whose embroidered work provides a cathartic outlet for understanding personal and social dissonance.

Kate Kretz - Oubliette II, 2008, human hair embroidery on found linen doily, hand-dyed velvet, convex glass, frame, 9 x 9", 13 x 13" framed.
Kate Kretz – Oubliette II (2008)

One of the functions of art is to strip us bare, reminding us of the fragility common to every human being across continents and centuries. Often, I will meet someone, and the visible weight of his or her life becomes almost unbearable to me, it rips me open. The objects that I make are an attempt to articulate this feeling.

Kate Kretz - Oubliette II, 2008, human hair embroidery on found linen doily, hand-dyed velvet, convex glass, frame, 9 x 9", 13 x 13" framed.
Kate Kretz – Oubliette II (2008) (detail)

These are serious times for many people, and this body of work, made during a difficult period in my own narrative, has literally saved my life. The repetitive act of embroidery seems to be made for calming worry… trying to tie things down, sew them in, make them stay. Embroidering with hair possesses its own unique intensity: each barely perceptible stitch is like a rosary bead, marking a tiny but ardent prayer whispered over and over.

Kate Kretz - Oubliette I, 2006, human hair embroidery on cotton, convex glass, frame

“I consider the inordinate amount of time invested in each piece as a gift given to the viewer. It often feels as though the cathectic things I make are an act of profound resistance: I give birth to the tactile as I am swallowed by the virtual. I obsess over craft as our world becomes disposable. I wield emotion in its messiness because it’s uncool. I work until my hands shake, because the world does not care.

Kate Kretz - "Ebb.", 2006, human hair embroidery on pillowcase, 20 x 30 x 10"
Kate Kretz – Ebb (2006)

I am banging my head against the wall, but the stain is beautiful.

Kate Kretz - "Decades of Dreaming of You...", 2012, hair embroidery on mother's hair from gestation period, threads from unraveled pillowcase, 3 x 5 x 5". Embroidered text reads, "decades of dreaming of you..."
Kate Kretz – Decades of Dreaming of You… (2012)

Kate Kretz has used her embroidery as a tool for catharsis and by choosing materials that are physically connected to her, she is re-evaluating her experience and making sense of it.

There is a real darkness to Kate’s work, but it’s an understated darkness. We may never fully understand the underlying inspiration for the works, but there are echoes of torment, whispers of past grievance.

Technically I think they are remarkable – using human hair as a material must require delicate patience and the mass of French knots in the Final Word is further testament to Kate’s conscientious approach to her work. It’s really terrific work.

Kate Kretz - "The Final Word", 2012, embroidery on black velvet, 20 x 16"

You  can find out more about Kate at her website – and you must check out her psychological clothing series – and learn more about her work and process on Instagram.


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