Sunday, September 19, 2010


I can never quite pin down why I've spent many hours of my life cross-stitching. It makes my eyes go blurry looking at the white cotton grid up close, it always seems like rocket science trying to figure out what symbol on the pattern matches which embroidery thread, and I can't really say I like the smell of the needle after holding it so long that I can't straighten out my fingers. Perhaps the love of cross-stitching is passed down through the maternal line, as my mom and her mom have both proudly displayed their own finished works in their own homes. At any rate, it's just one of those things that I enjoy doing and like finding other people who feel the same way. So I was rather delighted to hear from kOs regular Susie Quillinan, whose new website features some of her projects that I was not familiar with, including a couple that use cross-stitch as their medium. In her ongoing project, "tócame", the phrase 'touch me' is embroidered in cross-stitch and installed in an urban setting as a plea and provocation for those living in the city to experience and interact with their constructed surroundings (see above left and below).

Then, in Susie's project called "street x stitch", she re-creates small sections of different walls by cross-stitching them and then installing the re-creation on that wall, in a attempt to bring some softness to that urban landscape. I personally love this one the most, especially as the first two photos below are from an area in Brooklyn close to where I was staying.

I asked Susie a couple of question about these projects as I found them rather fascinating, so I thought I'd share them and Susie's answers with you:  

Me: Why did you choose cross stitch as your medium?

Susie: I have been working on a few cross stitch projects, exploring more contemporary ways of using a technique which I find to be a good antidote to my other work. In reality, I was also looking for projects which I could take with me on my travels as clearly, lugging sewing machines all over the world is not really an option... I was doing some work in the streets and had been looking for a way to add the materials I feel most attracted to working with: fabrics. I started with the tócame project because i am always fascinated by the texture of walls, especially in Lima where you have crumbling layers which create incredibly beautiful textures. I wanted to draw people's attention to the walls and their beauty and adding the word tócame (touch me) felt like the most immediate way to do that. It made sense to cross stitch the word in order to entice people to touch the walls, as the fabric and thread add an element that is somewhat incongruous in that context. I think the word itself is quite provocative and on another level it plays with the disconnection that many urban dwellers feel. It's the sensation of being surrounded by people, bodies and stories and not finding a way to engage, sensually or otherwise. After doing some tócame's, I realized that I wanted to explore the textures and colors of the walls a little more and that led to the wall replica pieces. 

Me: Will you be doing anything further with these two projects, or are the photos and the experience the end goal?

Susie: They are both ongoing projects and I like the simplicity of them and the fact that when I travel I can engage with a city on this level. I have also been invited to do a tócame mural in Lima which I will be installing later in the year.

Susie also has another cross-stitch project shortlisted for a competition in Barcelona, which you can find out more about here. Now, I think a trip to my local Fabricland is in order to buy some thread that matches that old curling rink just down the alley from me...

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