CULTURE & ARTS
08/26/2015 08:29 am ET Updated Aug 26, 2015

Miniature Embroideries Reveal The Inner Imagination Of Artist Michelle Kingdom

"Figurative embroidery seemed tailor made for expressing secret thoughts."
DUTIES OF GOSSAMER

What medium makes up the images in your imagination?

At first, I'd jump to photography or film to describe the memories, hopes, fears and in-betweens that live inside my skull. But those precise art forms, arguably developed to document the real, leave little wiggle room. The faithful images aren't often compatible with the types of faceless creatures and warped natural forms that dwell exclusively in dreams. A better medium, perhaps, would be one more suited to ambiguity, more comfortable in a visual limbo.

Michelle Kingdom, an artist based in Burbank, California, opts for hand embroidery as her mode for communicating the hallucinatory visions of the mind. Her deft stitches -- rendering gnarled trees, oversized butterflies and birds that hang from the sky like marionettes -- feel not only to be stitching thread A to thread B, but fantasy to reality. 

Roots Became Skeletons

"My initial interest in hand embroidery began while in college, where I studied traditional fine art," Kingdom told The Huffington Post. "At that time the art scene felt like a closed world, mostly focused on large, conceptual and impossibly clever work. I began what was essentially drawing with thread as a refuge away from all that, stitching purely for self-expression and exploration. There was something beautifully fragile, odd and otherworldly about the medium. Figurative embroidery seemed tailor made for expressing secret thoughts."

Each of her works synthesizes images from disparate sources -- memories, photographs, literature, personal mythology, art history and imagination. Only measuring, on average, eight square inches, Kingdom's vibrant visions act as a peephole into an another world, offering up cryptic narratives flattened out and sewn up. 

"My work is about the human experience; how we live our lives, the stories we tell ourselves, the history we choose to pass on or leave behind," she said. "I strive to create work that captures the murky tangle of our interior world in a way that is both beautiful and haunting. My hope is that if the work rings true personally, it will resonate with others too."

  • Life will divide us
  • Tending mislaid burdens
  • The Straying of Butterflies
  • thick and knotted with the lives they had lived
  • How cloudy the glass had become
  • everything seemed to stand still
  • Ready Steady
  • they could feel themselves shining in the dark
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