Welcome to Manbroidery, a series of interviews with men who stitch. This time, it’s Shaun Kardinal.
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Main embroidery medium: Embroidered paper ephemera, often collaged.
Noteworthy projects or pieces: My Alterations series, vintage postcards embroidered with geometric patterns and prismatic shapes, are probably the most well-known. The last set included 80 of them arranged in a 14×4′ grid, and was exhibited at Bumbershoot, a once-great Seattle music festival. My current exhibition Present Tense is maybe the strongest and definitely the most cohesive body of work I’ve ever produced. 🙂
How did you come to be an embroiderer? About a decade ago I was running out of steam as a photographer. I was finding the process wasteful, so I took a break to try something new, leading to an exchange of collages and prints with friends, primarily sent in the mail, one of which accentuated painted line work with bits of bright embroidery. Intrigued, I picked up a needle and thread and made a piece in response…
Where do you like to work? After over a decade of working in-home from my couch, I upgraded to a shared art studio last summer. I split the space with a dear friend (who shares a penchant for tidiness), so it’s quite lovely.
How do people respond to you as a male embroiderer? I can only remember one instance of someone citing my gender in relation to the work, when dropping off a piece for a museum show in 2012. The collections intake person asked me about it somewhat pointedly. It was honestly not something I had ever considered before, and until this set of questions, wasn’t something I’ve spent time thinking about since!
Who inspires you? Artists who push at the edges of mediums.
How has your life shaped or influenced your work? In the last few years I’ve been developing a cosmic, spiritual practice which has made its way into the work in a very direct way. To some degree it was always there, in radiating mandalas and dualism.
Do formal concerns, such as art history, interest you? My arts studies have been personal and nebulous—as such my art history concerns are anything but formal. However I do love discovering artists from the past who arrived at similar forms and ideas as those I’ve come to independently.
Are your current images new ones or have you used them before? Though I generally work in series, I try not to repeat the same pattern. The new work is an exception, aiming specifically to represent the same liminal space between two or more pieces.
What does your choice of images mean to you? I tend to select images based on their color and texture. The content of the images is also important, though generally my aim there is often a sort of lack of it—wide open spaces or abstracted scenery which can be altered without an implication of meaning.
Do you have any secrets in your work you will tell us? After a recent visit to my studio, a friend of mine teases me about how “neat” the work is. I plot every grid and point by hand on the reverse side of the piece, then punch each point twice—once slightly from the back, then all the way through from the front. Finally, when the thread is all there, I go around the piece and push every bit of revealed paper back in through the holes. 😬😬😬
How do you hope history treats your work? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Where can we find you and your work? I’m showing at J. Rinehart Gallery in Seattle through February 15, and in March I’ll be working/showing as part of a residency at Sou’Wester Arts Week in Seaview. I also have occasional “popup shows” of new small works available only on my Instagram.