Defacing with Thread

I describe myself as a visual digital artist.  I am fascinated in the transformation of flat two dimensional imagery into 3D.  How light, dark, shade and color can intersect to create depth and mood is my primary interest.  I explore how flat photographic imagery, embroidery and textiles can work together to create texture and depth.  The goal for me is simple: how can I make images jump off the canvas and invite the viewer to take a closer look.

I decided that human portraits would be my first category of exploration.  I spent time at flea markets and antique stores looking for portraits mainly from the late 1800s that had the potential to tell a different story than what the image portrayed.  To create this new narrative, I am effectively defacing the original image. The techniques are similar to the defaced posters one finds in the subway where someone has used magic marker to draw a mustache on a figure in an advertisement.


Sometimes I employ computer software like Photoshop to colorize or manipulate the pixels of the image.  Lately I have been defacing images with thread.  With hand embroidered stitching I can change the color of a subject’s hair.  I can also create texture depending on the number of threads I use.  Or by stitching colorful eyebrows and highlights, I can add depth to the face in the portrait.

Clown Defacing

“Clowned” is a mixed media portrait that started my experimentation with defacing photography with thread. Using a scanned image from a 1800s cabinet card, I imagined how the unknown woman would look in clown make-up. I use a fabric printer to place the image on linen fabric and then I hand embroider with floss. And a mini broach and blouse completes the ensemble. 8 x 8 inches. 

Hello Dali

Hello Dali is simply a tribute to one of my art influencers, the surrealistic genius Salvador Dali.  The portrait is hand embroidered over photo-printed linen fabric. 8 x 8 inches. 

Badass Granny

The base for the portrait began as a photo of a Victorian era woman in mourning attire. The image was colorized, printed on linen fabric and then hand embroidered.  “Badass Granny” is a juxtaposition of 20th Century technology and events with the Industrial Age. 8 x 8 inches

Woman prior to defacing

Breaking the Fourth Wall

The “Fourth Wall” is a conceptual invisible barrier between those presenting a form or communication and those receiving it. The inspiration for this portrait is Marvel’s film version of Deadpool.  Deadpool often breaks the Fourth Wall and speaks directly into the camera lens.  The character is a wise cracking and often crude superhero who hides his cancer scars behind a mask.  Similarly social media (Twitter, Facebook…) has allowed many in society to “Break the Fourth Wall” to deliver spiteful, nasty commentary directly to an unsuspecting recipient.  8 x 8 inches. 

Photo before defacing.


The above works are part of two exhibitions this summer.  The first exhibition called “Threadworks” features many talented artists that had one common “thread”: the use of textiles.  The other exhibition my work is featured in is City Lights Gallery in Bridgeport, CT.  The theme of the exhibition is “Same-Sex”.  The art pieces included in the exhibition include “Clowned”, “Badass Granny” and Hello Dali.

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