Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
Another facet of the Showing Publicly portion of the blog, The Curatorial Eye, allows me to share the inside scoop behind the scenes of putting together a nationwide exhibition. This week I was able to interview Ellen Schinderman, founder and curator of the annual exhibition "Stitch Fetish II."
"Stitch Fetish II," held every February at The Hive Gallery & Studios in downtown Los Angeles, continues to explore the art of the stitch, revealing the fetishized secrets lurking in the minds of artists as interpreted through hand made approaches like knitting, crochet, embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitch, quilting, plushes, appliqué, tapestry, and needlefelting.
This year’s "Stitch Fetish II" exhibition showcases the work of more than 30 contemporary stitchers, who have offered their interpretations on the theme:
Bren Ahearn, Mark Bieraugel, Katharine Lawrie, Amy Goldsmith Sheridan, Meghan Willis, Tara Fields, Carol Powell, Ashford Harrison, Mo Powers, Judith Pudden, Robert Marbury, Pita Garcia, Matthew Monthei, Erin M Riley, Shae Merrit, Kevin Muth aka Dirty Pillowz, David & Vesna Miller, Ken Amarit, Hine Mizushima, Luke Haynes, Billy Kheel, Oh Sew Nerdy, Rebeka Trigg, Spike Dennis, Maxine Shaw, Maggie Hunt, Iviva Olenick, Reavis Eitel, Leah Emery, and Ellen Schinderman.
Ellen graciously gave me a sneak preview of the show, as well as details on her personal body of hand stitched work. Enjoy!
"Angela" linen on cotton, 24" x 24", Ellen Schinderman, 2014
RR: This is your second annual Stitch Fetish show held at The Hive Gallery & Studios in Los Angeles. Take us back a few years, how did you come up with the idea?
ES: I had just curated my first show, "Home is Where the Needle Marks" at Pop Tart Gallery, and was having a featured solo show at The Hive Gallery. Nathan Cartwright, the owner, and I got into a conversation about the show I had just put up, which he came to see. I said I’d love more opportunities to curate and we started talking about the next available slot at the Hive, which turned out to be February 2013, and since February is all Valentines and lovers anyway, Fetish and Erotica seemed obvious.
"The Feminine Ideal" thread on paper, Mark Bieraugel, 2014.
RR: Has the show ever been a subject of controversy given the subject matter?
ES: Not that I’m aware of. God, please picket me! Such good press! No, no controversy, though I have been banned by Facebook for 24 hours for posting smut.
RR: What experiences are different this time around?
ES: It’s much easier - not easy, but easier. Having done this twice, and once before in this space, I knew what to expect and was very prepared. The hanging went far more smoothly this year, and overall it’s been less stressful and more fun.
"Woman With Long Brown Hair" cotton & chiyogami paper,
6.75" x 6.75" Judith Pudden, 2013.
RR: In what ways has the show gained in popularity?
ES: It’s amazing! So many people have told me they’re excited for this year’s show, and that last year’s was one of their favorites of the year! No one knew what to expect last year, lots of people were so amazed by the novelty of stitch, but now they’re prepared. There’s been more press, more pre-sale inquiries, and tons of lovely re-posting and re-blogging of info.
RR: Is your selection process a combination of juried works and invited artists? How has the selection process varied from year to year?
ES: Yes, I do an open call, ask people I think are fabulous, and troll the web looking for people who work with fabric and thread and have the right mindset. This year I already had a great stable of people to work with, and people randomly began reaching out to me, as I’m “the dirty stitcher,” and some of their works are just wonderful. Finally, I reached out to some people whose work I just love, though they may not usually make erotica - what they’ve come up with are some of my favorite pieces.
"Just the Three of Us With Clothes" linen on cotton, 5" x 7", Ellen Schinderman, 2012.
RR: What is your history and experience as far as curating exhibitions on a national scale?
ES: So far I’ve only curated in LA. It’s so much work, it seems daunting to curate a show where I am not, but I am thinking about it. I’ve been asked to curate at a gallery in Seattle and I’m talking about it with a gallery in San Francisco, so we’ll see what happens.
RR: As a curator, what type of work initially catches your eye?
ES: I’m a big humor girl, so usually things that make me giggle, or that are just so so smart that it hurts... that you thought of that, that you executed it so well, that I didn’t think of it first, that I want it so badly...
RR: What advice would you give to artists seeking out exhibition opportunities?
ES: Be polite and ask. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many shows and galleries I've gotten into just by saying, “Hey, can I play?” Granted, I usually know the people I'm asking, or they know my work, but don’t be scared to ask for what you want! The worst thing that can happen is they’ll say no, but they’ll probably remember you.
"The View From Here" linen on cotton, 24" x 36", Ellen Schinderman, 2014.
RR: The creatives at the Hive Gallery combined their efforts with you and filmed a Youtube and Vimeo teaser, which is unique and intriguing marketing aspect of the exhibition before the show opens. Where did this idea come from?
ES: The idea came from Rick Galiher aka Wilkinson the Butler, but once we decided to go with it, it was truly collaborative, with us riffing off each other and having lots of fun. Daisuke Okamoto shot it and did a fantastic job editing.
RR: What was it like filming the teaser and how has it been received?
ES: It was super fun, super silly. I come from a theatre background, so it was really fun to play “let’s pretend,” again. It’s been amazingly well received, over 350 views, in just a couple weeks!
"Stich Fetish II" teaser at The Hive Gallery & Studios, Los Angeles (NSFW)
RR: What are your thoughts and view on fine craft and fine art? Do you have any thoughts or stories in regards to explaining these views to traditional artists or gallerists that primarily show traditional fine art?
ES: I ignore the distinction. All art is crafted, not all craft is art. If someone doesn’t get it, I move on. I'm not here to convince people that my work is art even if the medium is a traditional craft.
RR: You've become a very well known and respected fiber artist burgeoning in the field today. How have you overcome obstacles with galleries to show your work alongside paintings?
ES: Again, I ignore the distinction. I approach galleries as an artist, not a fiber artist. I think of my works as paintings and drawings, but using thread and fabric rather than paint and canvas or paper and pen.
"My Mother as a Young Woman" linen on cotton, 24" x 36", Ellen Schinderman, 2012.
RR: I'm proud to say I have a piece of yours in my private collection. What has been your experience establishing your career in the past five years?
ES: An amazing and lucky one. I started making things to amuse myself and putting them in a bag in the closet. I finally showed my work to Gallery1988, who I knew as an occasional art buyer, and they put me in a group show. Both my pieces sold in pre-sale and I’ve never looked back. It’s been an incredible ride, I’ve gotten to travel to the UK, teach kids, I get the nicest emails from stitchers all over the world, and when you curate you get presents! Basically, I’m the luckiest girl in the world.
RR: Your work ranges anywhere from embroidery to cross stitch to any thread related approach in between, what drew you to your current larger scale works? Can you also tell us the intent and inspiration behind your smaller works?
ES: With the large works, I really wanted to push scale; art collectors aren’t looking for 8”x10” pieces. I dream of having the time to make a 10’x6’ piece. With the small works I tend to do red-work (an embroidery tradition where everything is stitched in a deep red tone), taking modern subjects and recasting them in stitch and only the one color, to force the viewer to see them in a new way.
And the doilies project is a study of the female form - the real one, not the air brushed magazine version - using images of mid-century naked woman stitched onto hand made doilies of the same era.
"DMG" linen on cotton, 30" x 30", Ellen Schinderman, 2013.
RR: Where can we see your work normally?
ES: I often have work at the Hive, and most of my work is on my site, www.schindermania.com. There are also a bunch of my pillows and things at the Twilight Gallery in Seattle, and if you’re in LA, I’ll be installing works at Dove Biscuit Gallery, on the Mezzanine level of The Last Bookstore next week, and will be in residence there for several months.
RR: In Addition to "Stitch Fetish II" opening this weekend, what new work are you creating for upcoming shows and events?
ES: I have a lot of stuff coming up, but the bigger and more interesting things are that I’m in Dirty Detroit 15, this weekend and next, with a large piece called, “My Girl Lollypop,” I’m making a couple works on paper for a show Daniel Rolnik is curating at Flower Pepper March 1st, and I’ve just been asked to participate in Gallery1988’s 10th anniversary show - still figuring out what I’ll make for that. Plus, I have a list of other things to make and do... there’s always more to make and do.
RR: Any other comments you'd like to share about the show?
ES: A huge thank you to Nathan Cartwright, who runs The Hive [Gallery], for letting me get naughty up in his space, not once, but twice.
"Stitch Fetish II" opens tonight, February 8th, and runs through March 1st, 2014.
Until next time!