Embroidered Photography


In this series of mixed media/ photography pieces, I have tried to capture the unique experience of solitude within New York City, where an individual can be surrounded by people yet still be completely anonymous and alone with one's thoughts. The rich internal life you can foster even while in such a busy and crowded environment is unique to large cities, especially one as hectic as NYC, but focusing on solitude is often forgotten despite how integral it can be in maintaining sanity here. Each image within this series shows an individual alone in Manhattan, surrounded by the external sensory overload from the city, as well as their internal sensory processing projected onto their surroundings.

I have visualized this by experimenting with the process of photographic developing and enlarging, destroying the negatives to create scratches in the images, which surround the figures in a ghostly manner, and then tearing and cutting into the final prints. I have stitched and embroidered the pieces with thread and my hair, which add visible texture to the pieces, as well as history and meaning. Embroidery is often considered to be a solitary and meditative activity, as well as a historical one, and in certain periods, hair has been meaningful as a reminder of lost loved ones. The stitches also resemble medical sutures used to stitch a wound closed, representing the healing quality of the solitude we often forget to seek out within this turbulent city.

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Elizabeth Brannan-Williams