Kathryn Shinko. Dirty Sampler Series: r u picturin? (detail). Hand embroidery on cotton cloth. 20"x 20". 2013-14.

dirty sampler series

I received the texts featured in the Dirty Sampler Series from a former co-worker many years ago, but I kept them in my phone:

 

Fr: Mike iv tastd u. u wanna tast me?

Sent: Oct 1, 11:11am

 

Fr: Mike r u picturin n imaginin me doin that 2 u rite now?

Sent: Oct 1, 1:15pm

 

Fr: Mike how bout u ridin me bouncin up n down on my rock hard dick u screamin my hands on ur tits suckn n fuckn

Sent: Oct 1, 1:20pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The part of me that despised them struggled against the part of me that couldn't help feeling smug – and surprised – that a man had actually, at one time, been physically attracted to me. I had been not only desired, but apparently desirable. 

The Dirty Sampler Series presents these messages as traditional stitched samplers. The oldest surviving ones date from the 15th or 16th centuries and were simply bands of cloth studded with a palette of various stitches. By the mid 17th century, samplers evolved, taking on a more scenic, pictorial quality and symbolizing chastity, virtue, and industriousness – all qualities of excellent young women.  

 

But technology, whether we want to admit it or not, is changing how we conduct ourselves sexually and changing the norms of sexual communication. It is changing the standards of what is normal or abnormal; acceptable or unacceptable; flirtatious or perverse; right or wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cream-colored, frilly-edged cloths upon which I chose to embroider evoke the feminine, the innocent, and the domestic. They resemble enlarged versions of handkerchiefs and other paraphernalia of courting. And indeed the first panel supports these notions. The embroidered forms are only faintly sexual: luscious orange peaches can be interpreted, with closer inspection, as round buttocks flanking a pink labial stripe. Flesh-tipped flowers in the corners spurting delicate, yellow sprays are stylized penis heads. Modest purplish testicles hang from the central flowers, which themselves also look like penis heads with generous slotted openings. And dotting the corners are four impassive blue eyes – reminders that in this age of technological communication, not one correspondence passes unnoticed by some omniscient entity. Every single bit of data gets tracked, monitored, collected, and kept - even the most intimate conversations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was painstakingly hand-embroidering these samplers over countless hours adding up to many months, I couldn't help scoffing at the ironic fact that texts that were composed in seconds and delivered only hours apart were taking me months to hand-embroider onto cloth. I was using the ancient art of hand embroidery to transcribe messages typed with a cellphone. And this honorable technique of patience and precision was the method I had chosen to reveal my stupid decisions - like getting involved with him in the first place (I should have known better when he suggested that we meet at a Pizza Hut and then, once I got there and called asking where he was, he suggested I come to his apartment instead). The only parallel? All three acts – the intimate encounter, the text messages, and the embroidering – demanded engagement from my body in one form or another.

 

Everything perverse about loveless sex is laid out on this panel. Sturdy penises wedged between blue testicles (referencing the fabled “blue balls” syndrome) lie in the middle of pink limbs that look like ridged sex toys, with orange arms grabbing the heads of each one. The fanged Venus fly-traps look on, their mouths agape, in awe of the florescent yellow streams squirting out and splattering onto the pink labia poised below. Along the sides, turquoise hands cup and squish pairs of pink breasts with erect nipples. The eyes are now purple, and sealed shut, as if an act of violence has occurred. Loud as it is, the proposition itself is being crowded out by the swollen borders, which represent the feelings and images they stir up.

This was the worst text. And this was the last text. (Actually – after hours of silence on my end, he sent the last text: wish I cud fig you out.)

 

Strangely enough, embroidery is a poignant and pithy metaphor of the sex act itself. You take a cloth – oftentimes pure, white, fresh from a craftstore package – unspool a long strand of thread, slip it through the slit of a needle, and penetrate the fabric. Not just once. But again, and again. In and out. Over and over. By the time you are done, the cloth that you've held in your hands is a completely different entity; transformed. It bears your marks, and is forever a witness of your act.

Kathryn Shinko. Dirty Sampler Series: iv tastd u. Hand embroidery on cotton cloth. 20"x 20". 2013-14.

Kathryn Shinko. Dirty Sampler Series: iv tastd u (detail). Hand embroidery on cotton cloth. 20"x 20".

2013-14.

Kathryn Shinko. Dirty Sampler Series: r u picturin?  Hand embroidery on cotton cloth. 20"x 20". 2013-14.

Kathryn Shinko. Dirty Sampler Series: r u picturin? (detail). Hand embroidery on cotton cloth. 20"x 20". 2013-14.

Kathryn Shinko. Dirty Sampler Series: how bout u ridin me.  Hand embroidery on cotton cloth. 20"x 20". 2013-14.

Kathryn Shinko. Dirty Sampler Series: how bout u ridin me (detail). Hand embroidery on cotton cloth. 20"x 20". 2013-14.

Kathryn Shinko. Dirty Sampler Series: how bout u ridin me (detail). Hand embroidery on cotton cloth. 20"x 20". 2013-14.

 © 2023 by Agatha Kronberg. Proudly created with Wix.com

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