On August 7, 2017, I had the pleasure of a studio visit with Linda Arredondo. She is one of the artists I have been following on social media. I was really excited about her embroidery works that I have seen so far and this visit did not disappoint! From this studio visit, I have asked her to be a part of the upcoming embroidery exhibition and I’m honored that she has accepted.
Arredondo earned a BFA in Painting from The University of Texas at San Antonio and her MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University. Although, her CV boasts of an Ivy League education, she credits her early education at San Antonio College (SAC), a community college in the Alamo College District, as a great influence. She said that the instructors were pushing abstraction so intensely that she and all of her classmates from that period have all took to working with imagery and the figure.
When I first met Arredondo, she was painting with breastmilk—she is clearly someone who likes to push boundaries with her medium choices. She has only recently started to exhibit her works with thread. In April of this year, she was part of a group show at The Lullwood Group in San Antonio’s Lone Star District, and she has an upcoming group show where her embroidery works will be featured in Houston, Texas at Jonathan Hopson Gallery in September.
Arredondo does not consider herself an embroidery artist. She said what she is doing is more like “slow drawing with thread.” She explained that traditional embroiderists might not approve of her stitches. She does not follow a pattern, she only consults books to learn certain techniques. She said it seemed like an a natural medium to explore as a mother; it is something she can do at the table with the children around, not as toxic as other practices might be.
She uses eyes and lips as anchoring forms in her work. Features that after all may be the most interesting parts of the face: the eyes as the window to the soul or at least the emotional state of their bearer, and their lips, when audible, are gateways into their minds—of course, both eyes and lips may also be the most sensual and individualistic characteristic of any given person. Eyes and lips are repeated and exaggerated in Arredondo’s work, quite often the focal point. She uses the portrait as a template, a platform to explore artistic expressions and as a gateway to thrust materials into new configurations. She pushes the medium from what it has been accustomed to and tests what it could be.
Arredondo’s source images largely come from a site called Ulzzang, translated to “good-looking” in Korean. It is a popular site throughout Asia, influenced by Korean popular culture. Photos are chosen by voters for the competition of best face. Eyes tend to be a major emphasis for this aesthetic displayed in the Ulzzang subculture style. Lips are also emphasized in some images. One might see the source material as cultural exploration on the part of Arredondo stemming from her Korean heritage, but she said she has also used faces from the missing person posters found in Walmart. The work is not connected or centered on the people from these posters or the Ulzzang photos, rather they are visually collected as forms. She does not wrap these persons in narrative, rather she would like the viewer to find their own meaning.
Arredondo cites Howard Fonda as her favorite contemporary artist and also gave me a tip to research Andean embroidery at the time colonization for more historical references of the medium used in aspects of rebellion. I’m looking forward to working with Arredondo for the upcoming exhibition in March 2018.
To learn more about Linda Arredondo: