Artist and curator, Ellen Schinderman is single-handedly re-crafting the category of stitch art. Her choice of subject matter will sometimes have you in stitches and other times pull at your heart strings. From dirty doilies, to naughty “needleporn,” to eye-popping pillows, to hanky-panky handkerchiefs, Ellen has found artistic liberation by cutting the old ties and quaint traditions that bind.
What do you think the precision of your art form says about you as a person?
I tend to be a bit of a high energy person, lots of thoughts, lots of projects going on, lots of irons in the ﬁre. I love the slowness required by the work; it’s very meditative and process oriented. It forces me to slow down and be in the moment, making.
Is there any imagery you would not ever consider translating to stitch?
The only thing I wouldn’t want to stitch would be something that bored me, I have to look forward to seeing how whatever i’m making will translate into stitch. There’s always a moment of revelation, when I see how it reads, and that’s so fun. If I were stitching something that didn’t interest me - a landscape, happy babies, cute puppies - I don’t think I’d look forward to the reveal in the same way. So maybe I only like to stitch things that I’ve never seen in stitch before.
Do you have any family members that inspired your interest in stitching?
Absolutely. my mom taught me to knit at a very early age, and while I just make scarves for friends, it’s all part and parcel. there was a lady who lived upstairs who I called grandma - though she wasn’t actually my grandmother - who ﬁrst taught me to needle point at about seven. Finally, and largely, my dad, who’s an antiques dealer in New York. I grew up in a home full of handmade and stitched items. I didn’t realize I was absorbing it all, but now when I go home I crawl around and look at the backs of bed skirts and spend time wandering my dad’s store to see what’s come in since I was there and ask questions about the makers.
What has been your greatest milestone as an artist so far?
God, so many; I’ve been incredibly lucky! Showing in New York with Gallery1988 has been amazing; I had a two page spread of my art in Hustler last May, which was so weird and awesome… and of course I’m so excited to be taking on my third curatorial outing, Stitch Fetish 2, at the Hive.
How much time on average do you take with pieces and do you record the time?
It really depends on what i’m making. the embroidered pieces take a day to a week, depending on the size and detail. The large scale cross stitches, which i’m really into making right now, take between 100 and 150 hours, so far, but I plan on getting much bigger (so far my largest piece is 24”x36”) so they will take longer and longer. I do record the time, mostly for my own amusement.
What about your creative process do you ﬁnd satisfying?
I tend to be outcome oriented and stitch work is all process, so it makes me stay in the moment and explore where I am, rather than dashing ahead to the next - thing I have to do, call I need to make, project i want to undertake.
What's "knot" to like about your art form?
The ﬂip side of the coin, sometimes it would be really nice to crank out work. I look at how proliﬁc my friends who are painters are and sometimes I get jealous that they can make so much so fast. Especially as I have so many things I want to make - but it takes the time it does, so it goes.
How do you deal with the loose ends being an artist?
I weave them under in the back.
How does "Stitch Fetish 2" compare art wise to the ﬁrst one?
I’m so excited by this year’s show! As wonderful as last year’s show was I think this one’s even better. We have a lot of returning artists, but added some people of whose work I’m a huge fan. Last year was so great, but was all two dimensional pieces; this year it was important to me that there be more objects, and there are… fabulous, weird, sexy objects!
Lots of stuff coming up! This weekend and next, in addition to SF2, I’m in Dirty Detroit 15, starting a several month residence at Dove Biscuit Gallery on the Mezzanine level of the Last Bookstore, starting next Thurs 2/13, March 1st I’m in a show at Flower Pepper curated by Daniel Rolnik, and in April I will be one of the artists in Gallery1988’s tenth anniversary show.
Come out this weekend to the Hive Gallery in downtown LA to see the group show of stitched, knitted and sown erotic works that Ellen is curating. It is entitled "Stitch Fetish 2" and opens this Saturday, February 8th, from 8-11:30 and runs through March 1st. For more info on the show, go to thehivegallery.com. For more information about Ellen's work and upcoming projects, go to www.schindermania.com