My documentary embroidery focuses on historical and contemporary issues of social justice for people in the U.S. and its neighbors. I typically start by looking at photographs of people involved in and affected by cultural ideologies about their social worth, intellectual competence, and abilities to act in their own best interests. Image sources include the Library of Congress, newspaper archives, unlabeled photos from antique stores, and my imagination.

The people in the images I create generally look the viewer in the eye. Many pieces include words that encourage the viewer to interpret their subjects' situations with empathetic curiosity.

I use cotton, silk, wool, and linen threads, usually on pre-washed linen, but also on recovered domestic textiles (napkins, towels, handkerchiefs).

I think of documentary embroidery as an artistic outgrowth of my 25 years teaching writing and American literature to college students. Most of my work is produced in public places—on Chicago's CTA trains as I commute to work, at parks and baseball diamonds while my children play. The talk sparked by people's responses to this stitching shapes the choices I make about subject matter and form.

 Saint Patti, Pray for Us (2012)

Saint Patti, Pray for Us (2012)