If embroidery makes you think of samplers full of minute flowers and sweet sayings, think again. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those–I love embroidery samplers.) But embroidery, that traditionally tame craft of proper ladies, gets an intense, artistic update thanks to artist Cayce Zavaglia. Trained as a painter, she developed a way to use embroidery to create portraits of her friends, family and fellow artists that have surprising depth and detail, and are incredibly lifelike.
Zavaglia is just as interested in showing off the backs of her embroideries as she is the fronts. While the front sides of the portraits are relatively staid in their impressionism, the backs are a looser, more abstracted form of the same portrait, where the threads spiral off into long, uneven strands and knots, lending the same image an energetic, almost windswept look.
She appreciates them so much, in fact, that she even creates paintings of the backsides, resulting in abstract portraits of a more traditional material, namely gouache and acrylic. The paintings also allow her to translate her work into a larger scale