Cayce Zavaglia

Gallery Affiliations: Lyons Wier Gallery

Region: Midwest


City / State: St. Louis, MO

I still consider myself a painter and find it difficult not to refer to these embroidered portraits as “paintings.” Although the medium employed is crewel embroidery wool, the technique borrows from the worlds of both drawing and painting.

Working with an established range of wool colors proved frustrating initially. Unlike painting, I was unable to mix the colors by hand. I progressively created a system of sewing the threads in a sequence that would ultimately give the allusion of a certain color or tone. The direction in which the threads were sewn had to mimic the way lines are layered in a drawing to give the allusion of depth, volume, and form. Over time the stitches have become tighter and more complex but ultimately more evocative of flesh, hair, and cloth.

My work unabashedly nods its head to the tradition of tapestry and my own love of craft. Using wool instead of oils has allowed me to broaden the dialogue between portrait and process as well as propose a new definition for the term “painting.”