The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Kate Kretz


The Cutting & Stitching Edge | Contemporary Embroidered Art from Mr X Stitch

Kate Kretz is a textile artist from Washington, D.C.

 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.

 

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.

 
“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"
“I am banging my head against the wall, but the stain is beautiful.”
Kate Kretz - "The Final Word", 2012, embroidery on black velvet, 20 x 16"

There is a real darkness to Kate’s work, but it’s an understated darkness. Her choice of materials has often has a tangible connection to the pieces she has made and there are hints of obsession in some of the works.

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..."
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 - "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..."

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 her blog.

She also has a solo exhibition at Hardcore Art Contemporary Space in Miami until July 7th. If you can’t make it, you can check out the work on Flickr.

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The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the contemporary embroidered art book curated by Jamie Chalmers. Featuring 30 textile-based artists from around the world, it’s a must have for needlework fans.


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