Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Healing Art of Erin Endicott

Healing Sutra #15
15 x 17 - 2010
hand embroidery, walnut ink on antique dress

My first introduction to the work of Erin Endicott was in the catalog for Fiberart International 2010. I was attracted and curious about this very powerful work but also had some uneasy feelings as I studied the image in the catalog for this exhibition.

I was rather surprised by my response to this work as I like edgy work that challenges the viewer to come closer and consider what the work is about. At this point I believe my response was triggered by the mix of the delicate fabrics and stitching combined with the suggestion of damage represented by the stains. I could only read those stains as blood stains and blood stains on clothing is emotionally charged and somewhat disturbing. My interest was ignited.

The series of pieces presented here is titled Healing Sutras. I looked up the dictionary meaning of sutra as a way to more fully understand. The definition refers to stitches and stitches are at the core of these pieces. Many artists who incorporate hand stitching in their process are aware of the kind of dedication that is required to work with this technique and the quiet contemplation that is often involved.

As time has passed I began to see Erin's work pictured and mentioned in a variety of places and I wanted to hear more about her work.

Healing Sutra #25
8 x 8 - 2011
hand embroidery, walnut ink, antique lace, beads on antique doll dress

Questions and Responses

Terry: How do you describe your style of working?

Erin: The "Healing Sutras" are created through an intuitive process. Rarely do I have a pre-conceived notion of a finished piece but instead rely on the walnut ink stain to guide the process. In the past my work (mainly drawing and painting) was very planned and methodical and while it was beautiful, it lacked the spontaneity of my current work. The walnut ink flows freely when applied to the fabric - creating beautifully subtle patterns with no help from me! This underlying stain produces a wonderful "map" for me to hand stitch on. I allow the stitching to flow freely as well. It is a very slow, deliberate process (I consider it drawing with thread) but the absence of a specific outcome allows me to keep the line work organic and free flowing. It is magical to see the work grow from one single stitch.

Healing Sutra #3
20 x 20 - 2009
hand embroidery, walnut ink on fabric cut from pattern

Terry: At this point in your career, your body of work is very cohesive. Are there pieces that appear in someway to be "outside" of the current collection?

Erin: Last year I created a piece for "Merge and Flow" the Surface Design Association Members' show at "Confluence". All entries had to measure 12" x 28" to be eligible for display. Up until that time I was working almost exclusively in the "dress" format so it was hard for me to let go of that aspect of the work. The piece ("Healing Sutra #19") allowed me to expand my vision for the Healing Sutras series and gave me the freedom to experiment with some new ideas (layering of fabric, altering the cloth through cutting). Ultimately the piece won "Best in Show" at the 2011 conference so I am very grateful for the challenge!

Healing Sutra #17
15 x 15 - 2011
hand embroidery, walnut ink, antique lace on antique table napkin

Terry: Do you work from start to finish on only one work at a time?

Erin: When I began the Healing Sutras series a few years ago I worked only on one piece at a time. As the pieces became more intricate and time consuming (one piece can take several months to complete) I found it kept the work "fresher" to put a piece on the studio wall for a while while I worked on another. I will do this any time the work starts to feel forced or planned in any way. These pieces can be successful if they come from my head - they need to come directly from my heart. At this state I am almost always working on 2 pieces at a time and enjoy how what is happening in one piece can inform another.

Healing Sutra #24
16 x 16 - 2011
hand embroidery, walnut ink, antique lace and metallic thread on antique dress

Terry: There is a very strong feminine quality to your work...the types of garments, the lace the floral elements to name a few. There is also the suggestion of blood through the use of the red thread and staining. Would you please share with us how male viewers respond to these elements and references and how these responses might be different from those of female viewers.

Healing Sutra #19
12 x 28 - 2010
hand embroidery, walnut ink on antique table runner

Erin: Yes, the feminine qualities/references in my work are apparent - the work being purely inspired by my own experience would necessarily be from a feminine perspective. When I began this series it was created purely as an aid for my own healing - not to be intentionally selfish but from a place of near desperation. The first time I showed the work to a broad audience (Healing Sutra #3, Fiberart International 2010, Best in Show) I was blown away by the response and the effect the piece had on the viewers (mainly women at this venue). At this time I realized the potential these pieces had for healing others as well as myself. This was when I knew the work was important (not important in a self-serving sense but as a contribution to collective healing). As I continued the series and began to show the work to broader audiences I found that men were drawn to the more visceral qualities of the work. I think the honesty of the Healing Sutras transcends the feminine/masculine boundaries and allows viewers of both sexes to relate to their stories.

Terry: What kinds of activities do you enjoy outside of your studio?

Erin: I have made a conscious effort to keep my life very simple. I live in a beautiful rural town where I can walk out my door and into the garden or the woods or down to the river. I meditate regularly (and also consider my stitching a part of my meditation practice) practice yoga and love to spend time outdoors - especially by the water. I enjoy nothing more than spending quiet, peaceful time with my son and my loved ones.

Erin Endicott

Terry: What keeps you inspired and motivated?

Erin: As far back as I can remember I have been passionate about Art. Inspiration (which literally means "In Spirit" flows through me constantly as long as I take time to get quiet and still and allow. I am so grateful to be an artist and to have the opportunity to share my vision with the world!

Thank you Erin for sharing you thoughts and your work.

Erin is introducing a line of "Healing Sutra" silk scarves printed with her original embroidery designs. You can find updates about this project on her Facebook page which is Erin Endicott Contemporary Embroidery.

Here are some links to several upcoming shows in which Erin's work will be included and her website:

"Crossing Lines: The Many Faces Of Fiber"
December 6, 2011 - February 19, 2012

"9x9x3 : New Visions"
February - March 2012

"Narrative Thread"
Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia PA
March 2 - April 28 2012

"Mending = Art"
Borowsky Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
March - May 2012

"Narrative Thread" and Mending = Art" coincide with FiberPhiladelphia and the SDA conference of 2012.

Thank you for spending time at Studio 24-7. I love hearing from you and Remember:

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  1. thanks for this post on an amazing artist. so original. i love the use of christening gowns. the artwork is both beautiful and as you say disturbing to see the red veins in the heart area. wonderful. blessings, suki

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I'd never heard of Erin Endicott and I love to learn about new artists. Her work is stunning, in content and execution and very inspiring.

  3. Terry and Erin, I appreciate this interview and the lovely work Erin creates. I immediately friended Erin on FB after I saw her work at the show in Pittsburgh last year.

    Erin is my kind of artist. Wishing her continued success!

  4. This is powerful and beautiful work.

  5. Thank you to everyone for the support. The scale of this work is so intimate but the images so powerful.

  6. Thank you for introducing me to Erin...very thought provoking! Have a great weekend! Peace, Mary Helen

  7. I had the pleasure of meeting Erin when she exhibited her work at Fleisher in Philadelphia this past year. What a wonderful embroidery artist!

  8. Thank you Mary Helen and MarieE. Erin presents a beautiful combination of content and form.