Always a water-colourist at heart, I began embroidering using fabrics like kitchen napkins and upholstery as mediums. As my love for embroidery grew, it seemed natural to combine the two. What resulted was a body of work of embroidered water-colours and fabrics of domestic use that resonate with the theme of violence against women.
Embroideries have long been encouraged as amateur past-times, associated with un-threatening femininity and unquestioning domesticity. But in my work, the violence of a needle piercing through paper tells a different story. Each prick threatens the fragility of the paper, and the integrity of the woman on the painted page. The horrifying rape in Delhi in December 2012 made me certain that art was my way of speaking to the shameful scour of misogynistic violence.
The titles of this series are public utterances that were made on this issue. I chose to paint the portraits of nameless women in the margins of old photographs, magazines and newspapers before embroidering flowers across their faces. The contrast between the softness of a paintbrush and the sharpness of a needle, the blackness of a burqa and the bursting red of a rose disrupt and break what would otherwise be just another series of "pretty pictures".
The Voice: Artist Profile
by Shawn Sebastian