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Making Special • by Rebecca Ringquist

Rebecca RingquistEmbroideries
I learned to embroider in college in the context of a feminist art history class. Unlike most people who learned the old-fashioned way from their grandmothers, I learned the chain stitch while reading Virginia Wolf’s A Room of One's Own. I gravitated towards the political power of subversive marks laced with domestic content, and was propelled into a new way of drawing. Eventually I got an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies. My work is still informed by feminism, and I’m still making embroidered works. But something happened along the way; I fell in love with the process of embroidery. In addition to its rich history, embroidery is a relaxing thing to do (except, perhaps, on a deadline!). I sit and embroider when I am stuck in the studio. I covered a whole piece of fabric with dense lazy daisies while waiting for my dad to recover from an operation day and I realized that I did not feel as tense as the other times I had waited. The repetition of embroidery is calming.

Inspired by Artists — Lots of Different Kinds
In thinking about art, I find it most helpful to use cultural anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake’s definition of art as “making special.” Art is what we do when we make something special. As someone who has taught for a while at an art school (SAIC), as well as at craft communities around the country, I often have discussions with various students about the differences between art and craft and question the idea of what makes someone an artist. To me, there are lots of kinds of artists, and lots of art worlds. These worlds don’t always recognize each other, but it’s a great big planet with room for everybody to make their own special. I find this idea to be hopeful and generative. Keep on making!

I make embroideries, which I sometimes describe as drawings, but my work is inspired by a panoply of artists, working in lots of ways and styles. I’ll be sharing two links a day with you for the next week. I hope you’ll come back to see all of them.

To learn more about Rebecca Ringquist, visit


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