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Kathryn Shinko. Wounds Slowly Being Covered Up: Eye (detail). hand embroidery on painted aida cloth. 12" x 14". 2016.
I use traditional fiber art techniques like hand embroidery, latch-hooking, and weaving to confront uncomfortable social and psychological issues – particularly those involving sex, power, politics, physical pain, and the human body. Provocative statements - gleaned from sources as personal as text messages to as public as streaming video titles from pornographic websites - combine with lurid colors, disorienting patterns, and disturbing imagery using familiar materials: cloth, thread, paper, and yarn. Approaching such subjects through the innocuous, ubiquitous, and sensuous aspect of textiles creates a jarring contrast that begets a lasting unease. The psychological energy present in the nature of cloth constantly seduces me and I find it easiest to visually communicate through meticulously manipulating fibers.
My goal is to examine our collective and common understandings of these issues - and either revise or reaffirm them.
As I've developed my art practice, I have been experimenting with incorporating fibers into other media, including photography, printmaking, and performance. In-progress work includes Rorschach imagery hand-stitched onto photos of penises, paired with descriptions of YouTube videos and lines of personal poetry. Another project features sleeping pills sewn into a multitude of tiny pillows overflowing on a nightstand. And right now I am working on a performance art piece that involves scribing the entire book of Lamentations from the Bible.
At this point in time, my art is at a critical junction that, if nurtured and pursued, can change the course of my work entirely and assist in advancing fiber arts as a versatile and powerful contemporary art medium.
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