When scouring through the minute details of artist Cayce Zavaglia’s embroidered portraits (previously), it’s difficult imagine each work is scarcely larger than 8″ x 10″. Her process, which she refers to as both “thread painting” and “renegade embroidery,” begins with a photoshoot of each subject, namely friends, family, and fellow artists. Roughly 100-150 photos are winnowed down to a single selection which she then begins to embroider with one-ply embroidery thread on Belgian linen. She shares via her artist statement:
Over the years, I have developed a sewing technique that allows me to blend colors and establish tonalities that resemble the techniques used in classical oil painting. The direction in which the threads are sewn mimic the way brush marks are layered within a painting which, in turn, allows for the allusion of depth, volume, and form. My stitching methodology borders on the obsessive, but ultimately allows me to visually evoke painterly renditions of flesh, hair, and cloth.
Zavaglia is also interested with the backs of her portraits, a tangled mesh of thread and knots resembling a more abstract version of the exacting portrait on the reverse. In a return to her roots as a painter, she creates gouache and large format acrylic paintings of the backsides, effectively creating a painting of an emboirdery of a photograph.