Michelle Kingdom’s embroideries have a poetic essence to them. Exploring psychological landscapes, her embroidered scenes illuminate thoughts left unspoken. Decidedly small in scale, the scenes are densely embroidered into compressed compositions (girls holding hands, kids having a party, a woman with a fantastical floral dress…).
In her work, symbolism and allegory lay bare dynamics of aspiration and limitation, expectation and loss, belonging and alienation, truth, and illusion. “My approach to the work is intuitive and there is an ongoing,” she explained her creative process in an interview with Textile Artist, “in organic technical dialogue throughout the process. While honoring the richness of tradition, I also try to refresh and bring renewed relevance to the medium.”
Indeed, using the thread as a sketching tool, Kingdom simultaneously honors and undermines the tradition of embroidery, elevating it from its traditional and often over-looked history.
Her work process was learned through trial and error, with her initial interest in textiles beginning while in college in the early ’90s, when I was studying fine art. “Back then the art scene felt like an exclusive, closed world,” she recalls. “Serious work was oversized, relentlessly ironic, coldly conceptual and impossibly clever. I never imagined there would be any place there for me.”
At the same time, growing up in a sewing family, she was drawn to art but also the world of textiles, which she experimented with on my own. And so, she began “drawing with thread”, so to speak, teaching herself embroidery as a way to pursue both passions and as a reaction to art that didn’t speak to her. Nowadays, her artwork is anything but overlooked. Scroll down, to see some of her most recent needlework.