in

Cayce Zavaglia

Zavaglia, 10/1/15, 10:59 AM, 8C, 3308x3054 (320+1189), 62%, Default Settin, 1/30 s, R65.1, G53.4, B71.6

My work concentrates exclusively on the portraits of friends, family, and fellow musicians. The gaze of the portrait toward the viewer has remained constant over the last few years and in my job…as has my search for a narrative based on both faces and facture. The work is all hand sewn with cotton and silk thread or crewel embroidery wool. From a distance they see as hyper-realistic paintings, and only after closer review does the work’s true construction display itself.

Through time, I have developed a sewing technique that enables me to blend colors and set tonalities that resemble the processes used in classical oil painting. The direction where the threads are stitched mimic the manner brush marks are layered inside a painting which, in turn, allows for the allusion of thickness, volume, and shape.

A number of years back, I turned one of my own embroideries over and for the first time saw the chances of a new image and path for my own work that was with me in the studio for so long but had gone undetected. It was the existence of another portrait which visibly was so different from the meticulously sewn front picture…but maybe more emotionally deep. The haphazard beauty present within this verso image created a haunting contrast to the front image and was a world of loose ends, knots, and insanity that could easily translate into the area of paint.

This discovery led to a “yield to paint” in my job and also the production of a string of intimate gouache and big format acrylic paintings of these verso images. Highlighting the reverse side of my embroideries, which technically and historically has been hidden from the viewer, has initiated a dialog about the divergence between our private and presented selves. The creation of the Recto and Verso images has become the main focus of my studio work.

MacArthur Fellows Program

Recto and verso