So, as some of you might have seen, I’m currently curating a show for the Lillstreet Gallery that’s all about embroidery and… Instagram. That’s right! Embroidery and Instagram might not seem like they have that much in common but I’ve actually found that their overlaps are very interesting. In order to explain my thoughts and, hopefully, answer some questions, here’s a little q&a. You can take as much or as little time with this post as you’d like. Curious about my thought process? Get comfy and read through! Have specific questions pertaining to entering a piece? Scroll through the questions to see if I’ve answered yours. If I haven’t, feel free to shoot me a DM at @fiberistanora or @lillstreetgallery or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALL FOR ENTRIES
Calling all Embroiderers! We are formally announcing our #LillstreetHoopDreams CALL FOR ENTRY! The #LillstreetHoopDreams exhibition will be June 1 – July 7, 2018. The deadline for submission is March 16. Accepted artists will be notified via Instagram by March 23. Tag your submissions with #LillstreetHoopDreams to enter your piece(s) for consideration. Please share/repost this post for all to see. DM for questions or send an email to email@example.com.
- Work must be fully completed: photos of in-process work will not be eligible. Work must arrive ready to hang.
- All topics, themes, styles and materials will be considered.
- The work does not need to be ALL embroidery but stitching must be a significant element of the piece.
- All work must be for sale. Lillstreet Gallery offers a 50/50 commission.
- Artists may submit as many pieces as they wish. Multiple pieces from individual artists may be selected.
- Only original artworks will be selected; please do not submit work made using a kit or pre-bought pattern.
- US only, please.
Instagram is an immediate, widely accessible platform allowing artists to connect globally, learn techniques and find inspiration. Similarly, the economical cost and portability of embroidery materials appeal to a diverse set of makers. By its very nature, stitching is a medium that encourages connectivity and transcends boundaries. For these reasons and more, Instagram hosts a rich community of embroiderers — a modern application becoming the perfect home for an ancient craft. Curated by Lillstreet Textiles Department Director, Nora Renick Rinehart, #LillstreetHoopDreams will feature a selection of artists brought together by a world-wide-web of threads.
Why are you interested in Embroidery? And why have you chosen Instagram as your platform?
I think there is an embroidery revolution happening on Instagram right now.
First of all, Instagram is free*. It’s immediate. It’s literally in the palm of our hands any time, any place. Gone are the days when you’d have to go to a museum or gallery to see art – now we can access whole worlds of images at the touch of a button. And that accessibility – the wildfire spreading of inspiration – is breaking down the barriers for participation and access. Second, we’re communicating globally instead of being limited by our geographic locations. Every day I get to see work by artists in Russia, Japan, the UK and New Zealand. When our languages don’t match, we have a convenient *see translation* option. I mean, really. What a time to be alive. And third, Instagram is different from professional websites which are clean and curated. Instead, we see the evolution of individual pieces and whole bodies of work. Not only that, but the artists become human – we get to see their pets, their spaces, their significant others and their non-art interests. Art doesn’t happen in a vacuum and admitting that publicly a shift in traditional thinking.
In so many ways, embroidery is *like* Instagram. It’s accessible: the materials are cheap, portable and the stitches are easy to learn. It’s a media that requires little-to-no official training, and can be widely applied. Want to embellish a garment? Make a patch? Create an ornate and intricately worked composition meant to hang on the wall (aka ART)? All of these are great options. Embroidery is as much about process as it is about the final object. You could create this design digitally or with markers or paint, but embroiderers have specifically chosen to render their designs with thread. That decision may mean something different to every artist but in every case it is intentional and important. And it’s communal. Short “how-to” videos of stitch techniques and conversations about creative decisions are widely shared. Some artists are even making money (gasp!) out of their practice: by selling their work or designing patterns for others to follow and they are successful because of the support by their followers.
Here are these artists – some of them self taught, others classically trained – and they’re making work that just… blows me away. They’re referring to art history and cultural heritages; they’re thinking outside the hoop and integrating alternative materials; they’re addressing politics and gender stereoptypes or simply expressing the joy felt in the act of creating. And they’re all using tags to communicate. So when I started brainstorming about how and what I wanted to curate next… it seemed too good to pass up.
(*I do want to acknowledge that, while Instagram may be a free app, the technology with which to use it is not. There are a lot of artists all over the world who cannot afford smartphones. While I wish I could offer a platform that was truly available to all, my goal was to at least create a free call-for-entry which, I think, are unfortunately infrequent these days.)
What the heck do you mean by “tag to submit”? And why?
Most gallery shows are put together by invitation or through a call for entry which frequently costs money. Because it fits so well with my concept for the show (community through the connectivity of the internet) we’re using a tag submission. All you have to do is post a photo to Instagram and tag it with #LillstreetHoopDreams by March 16th. Boom! Submitted! After that date, a jury of Lillstreet Gallery and Lillstreet Textiles Department staff will comb through the tag and look at all the work. Selected artists will be contacted via Instagram DM by March 23.
So… exactly what kind of work are you looking for?
We’re hoping to collect a group of pieces that reflect the broad range of ideas, images and techniques that are shared on instagram every day. That might sound vague but we’re really thinking about it as “open to interpretation.”
Is there a size limit for submitted work?
Nope! I figured the laborious nature of embroidery would end up limiting finished size on it’s own, AMIRITE? (If you have a question about a particular piece, feel free to send me an email or DM.)
Does the work need to displayed in a hoop?
Absolutely not! The only request we have is that the work arrive ready to hang which may end up determining what kind of pieces we’re able to select. Do you stitch onto paper? Awesome! The work would have to arrive framed or with hanging magnets. Do you stitch onto clothes? So cool! This work would have to arrive with some kind of hanging device like a (really nice) clothes hanger and knob or something similar. Have a scenario we haven’t thought of? Tag a photo with #LillstreetHoopDreams just in case. You can also DM @lillstreetgallery or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How many pieces/artists will you be selecting?
That will depend greatly on the kinds of submissions we receive. Our main goal is to create the best show possible which means finding work that not only achieves our conceptual goals but also talks with each other. (But probably somewhere between 10 and 20 pieces/artists.)
Why US only?
You guys, this one kills me but it really comes down to logistics. International shipping can be a nerve-wracking thing: between the price and the threat of customs delays we just can’t justify it. But all you non-US insta-embroiders are phenomenal, too!!
-Nora Renick Rinehart