Sunday, October 30, 2011

Embroidered X-Rays

Necklace with Bouquet

     Everyone of us, I assume, had to take at one point in his life a x-ray. Usually those x-rays end up in some doctors office, in some drawer or in a box in the attic. In case of Matthew Cox they end up being beautifully embroidered either to complete the body part or to add another new, whimsical element.
     Matthew Cox is a Philadelphia - based artist who embraces and joins a variety of media to produce several thematic series of work. Medical x-rays and embroidery, couture and crime, rubber stamps, short -story prose and paint all layer toward a darkly comic and anachronistic impression of the human condition in the twenty-first century.

Pigtails        Knee and Daisies  

     He swirls together quite a contradictions in his latest series, Embroidered X-Rays. Weaving embroidery thread into plastic, skeletal slides, Cox’s collection provides an odd juxtaposition, both visually and conceptually, the vibrant colors and familiar characters setting a playful mood while the X-rays remain cold and clinical. Proportionally true to the body part being pictured, the injection of stitches often depict elements of flora in a dreamscape-like scenery. The wildly contrasting materials reads
together as something new and different from their original purpose.


     Redefinition motivates Matthew to create his embroidered x-rays. The stark clash of two such divergent materials, cloth and plastic, is the simple catalyst. One tactile and labour intensive, the other technical, and quickly a finished product. There’s a wide historical context, one ancient, decorative, and artisanal, the other contemporary and devoid of aesthetic intention. By simply placing one of these materials on top of the other the understood purpose of each is redefined. For him, stitching has a nurturing aspect and acts as care giving or healing to the injured, a socially feminine sort of action, while the x-ray itself can be considered masculine and unemotional.

     The intricately made collection not only includes original embroidered portraits, but pop-culture ones as well, with David Bowie, Snow White, and Miss Piggy grafted onto chest X-rays.
      Finally, his own recognition of what is beautiful [these separately became appealing to him at about the same time]. As an artist who takes on tedious, labour-intensive projects, he is also reacting to the ever-increasing presence of photography in contemporary art – by introducing the process of labour over the quick, slickness of film.

                                                               Wrapped Wrist

     For Cox, the practice of superimposing these two applications is also a comment on the ever-increasing presence of photography in contemporary art. By introducing a tedious and time-consuming process into a medium that is quite often quick and instant,
the embroidered x-ray prints represent a format of film that explores new ways of technique and representation.

                                                                    Blowing Hair   

Wading Knees

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