Dark Fibers and Stitch Witchery: Twelve Dark Fiber Artists to Watch
Weaving and knitting have been used for centuries to produce an array of useful objects, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that fiber art and fiber artists were recognized as a force to be reckoned with. During that time needlework was reclaimed by the feminist movement and made its way into a fine art sub-genre operating within the area of textile art. Fabrics, roving, and silky threads are woven, stitched, and pearled to create unique one of a kind artwork, and we’ve collected twelve fiber artists to keep your eyes on.
English fiber artist Mister Finch sculpts a menagerie of creatures reminiscent of a darker version of Beatrix Potter’s folklore. Shapeshifting witches, moon gazing hares, and a smartly dressed devil are at the ready to invite you to stray from your path. While foxes, rabbits, moles, and other European fauna regularly appear in his visual vocabulary, his larger than life insects are particularly striking.
Embroidery by Gayla
Gayla Partridge is a multifaceted artist who weaves ornately embroidered images of skulls, flowers, and other biological life. Trained as a photographer and specializing in retro/vintage photography, Gayla picked up embroidery as a hobby after retiring, and her new work is wildly well-received. Despite embroidery being a far cry from her photography (which can still be found at her photography website), elements of her unique aesthetic can be seen in both bodies of work with lushly saturated colors and an intense attention to detail. Her skull work in particular sells quickly through her Etsy shop.
French artist and textile designer Lyndie Dorthe is heavily inspired by vintage and Victorian memorabilia, oddities, and the occult. She combines printed fabric and mixed media objects to create her unique fabricated sculptures ranging from stuffed anatomical skeletons under cloche domes, faux fabric butterfly specimens under glass, and Victorian lover’s eyes. Lyndie’s extensive body of work is perfect for any modern cabinet of curiosities. Lyndie’s online shop is set to reopen later this year.
Katherine Walsh of Fearsome Beast is a set designer and dresser by trade, but when she isn’t working with companies like Disney or Vans, she can be found illustrating and embroidering tiny and intricate skeletal monarchs. Lavishly dressed and framed, these miniature masterpieces are hand-stitched using silk and golden threads, and ready to grace the walls of your home. You can purchase her artwork here.
When he was eight years old in New Caledonia (a French territory in the South Pacific), Jim Faure found a human skull. This experience changed him forever and sent him down a unique artistic path. Now going by the epithet “Jim Skull,” he sculpts life-size human skulls out of a variety of materials ranging from rope, eggshells, beaded threads, and hair.
Hailing from Istanbul, artist Zeynep Mar has a plethora of embroidery art on her Esty page ranging in topics from feminist issues and body positivity to lighthearted fan art. Known for her pale candy colors gracing geishas, devils, and pastel Baphomets, her playful stitch witchery is sure to make you smile.
Fine artist Stephanie Metz creates biomorphic abstract sculptures that explore the tension created when opposing qualities coexist. She works primarily in wool and industrial felt to create detailed, complex, and mysterious forms that defy their humble origins. Visceral and strangely familiar, her sculptures take on the forms of bone, flesh, organ, and sometimes animalistic shapes. Embellishments like porcupine quills add an unexpected texture and the sense of potential threat.
Brooklyn artist Kjersti Faret’s illustrations, prints, and embroidery are mainly influenced by her Scandinavian heritage, the occult, feminism, cats, and of course, heathenism. Not only is she skilled with a needle and pen, but Kjersti is also the creator of Cat Coven, a lifestyle brand for “the weirdos, the magical, and the feminists.”
The Skull Garden
Amanda Osborne of The Skull Garden combines ethically-sourced bones and embroidery in an unexpected format. Inspired by nature, delicate mosses and lichen are woven in with embroidered embellishments and finished with skulls, vertebrae, and other osteological items nestled within.
Marianella “Mari” Contreras of Strange Coven produces a variety of handmade delights for the strange ranging from jewelry, watercolor paintings, and even cute spooky handbags. My favorite items in her shop, however, are the memento mori-inspired brooches. These reflect Mari’s love for the iconography used in many opulent and intimate pieces of mourning jewelry that at the time were made using the hair of the deceased.
Irish born artist Inge Jacobsen uses embroidery to reinvent and “hijack” the meanings behind classic advertising. Working with found imagery, textiles, and thread, she utilizes well-known commercials and magazine covers, and her use of fibers results in psychologically jarring alterations to the original image.
Erin M. Riley
American tapestry artist Erin M. Riley creates art based on the imagery produced by the internet generation. Her pieces explore the topics of sexuality that have been unavoidably changed by the constant depictions of intimate moments online. Producing these works in textile over another medium is intended to inflict a sense of confusion and excess.
Featured image courtesy of Jim Skull.