Jessica Wohl, White Mask, 2012 @ Jessica Wohl

An exhibition at the Robert Mann Gallery in New York this summer explores the approaches of 11 artists who take a needle and thread to photographs. Curated by artist Orly Cogan, the entire show is worth a visit (or peek online if you can’t make it). Below are 10 of my favorite works from 5 of the artists on view.

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Jessica Wohl, Sillouettes, 2011 @ Jessica Wohl

In the lead image and directly above, Jessica Wohl uses thread to obscure faces and figures in “found photographs”. The effect is beautifully stunning and ominous, heightening the subjects’ forgotten identities with greater (and often darker) mystery.

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Diane Meyer, Spree Park, Former DDR Amusement Park, 2013 @ Diane Meyer

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Diane Meyer, Former Guard Tower off Puschkinallee, 2013 @ Diane Meyer

Diane Meyer (whose work we’ve featured here before) cross-stitches over images with carefully color-matched thread. The pixelization reveals more than it hides, reminding us how colorful our world actually is. In the case of “Former Guard Tower off Pushkinallee” (above, and my personal favorite in the whole exhibition), the thread approximates the location of the removed Berlin Wall, creating a wonderful ghost of the past.

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Flore Gardner, Rain, 2014 @ Flore Gardner (no longer in exhibition)

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Flore Gardner, Chiasmus, 2012 @ Flore Gardner

Flore Gardner uses thread to pull life and joy out of old anonymous images. In “Rain”, a downpour never looked so fun, and in “Chaismus”, the girl’s act of crafting literally finds it’s way to the surface. Her laser-focus and childhood joy in a creative afternoon is inescapably infectious.

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Jose Romussi, Alla Schellest (Dance 13), 2012 @ Jose Romussi (no longer in exhibition)

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Jose Romussi, Diane Adams (Dance 1), 2012 @ Jose Romussi

Jose Romussi’s does more than colorize vintage dance photographs with thread, he modernizes and gives movement to an art form that often feels cold on film. The works, titled after the dancers themselves, renew appreciation for these artists who work in one of the most difficult, beautiful, and highly impermanent forms of art.

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Melissa Zexter, Blizzard, 2013 @ Melissa Zexter

Stitching Photographs: Various Approaches in main art  Category

Melissa Zexter, Veil, 2013 @ Melissa Zexter

Melissa Zexter’s embroidered patterns overtake images with a dream-like surreality. The play between tactile flatness and photographic depth feels like a 21st Century Gustav Klimt painting.

For me, the full show was an inspirational reminder of two things:
1. Collaborations, whether the second artist is known or not (or even recognized AS an artist or not), are amazing.
2. It’s never what you use that makes you unique (or what makes it “art”)… it’s how you use it.

What: The Embroidered Image
Where: Robert Mann Gallery, 525 W 26th St, New York NY
When: May 29 – August 15, 2014

All images courtesy of Robert Mann Gallery, New York