621 Presents


an exhibition by Susan Hensel

Opening Reception | March 5th, 2021
Doors Open at 6:00 PM | Talk Starts at 7:00 PM

Exhibition Dates | 03.05.2021 – 03.26.2021

Artist Statement:

A single stitch is made by stretching a thread between two holes. The line  formed by it can be loose or tight. It can be thick or thin, depending on the  diameter of the thread. It can be long or so short that it barely exists. But, it can  never exist as more than a single defined geometric event, a sort of singularity.  The combinations of these singularities create planes, lines, forms, and  geometrical space. 

For several years, starting with the support of a Jerome Foundation Project  Grant for Textile Art in 2014, my intense media focus has been on digitizing for  machine embroidery. There is an assumption that the machine dictates the  outcome, doing all the work for you. The computer and the embroidery  machines are the tools that allow me to produce my vision. To quote Jane  McKeating. “Color drips off the needle every bit as richly as that from a brush.” 

The process is highly technical, using several software packages that can only be  described as a non-intuitive cross between Photoshop and Illustrator. Creating  digital embroidery is limited by the geometry and the capability of both the  machine and the materials. Needle and thread have real dimension and stitches  can only be straight, joined together to suggest curves and forms.  

Digital embroidery lends itself to hard edge geometry as well as biomorphic  form. The combination of high tech with “women’s work” provides a delicious  contrast of hard/soft, nostalgic/current, objective/non-objective. It also lends  itself to modular repetition and re-combinations. Themes can be played out  quickly in the computer and then stitched and sampled oh so slowly on the  machine; combined with and without mixed media in a wide-ranging exploration  of forms in space.  

In this chaotic time, digital textiles seem like a way to begin to bring order to the  world. Order is, however, always unstable, a glimmer of a hope, cut off by  random acts of chance or intent. It is no different in digital embroidery. In the  computer, all things seem orderly, put together, and logical… as though the  human propensity for chaos did not exist. In the production, chance operates:  human error, flawed thread, broken needles, run out bobbins, high humidity,  low humidity, fabric popping out of hoops and the panicked phone call from a  friend. Repair savvy, canny attention and a spirit of wabi sabi is essential.

Artist Bio:

Susan Hensel received her BFA from University of Michigan in 1972 with a double major in  painting and sculpture and a concentration in ceramics.  

With a history, to date, of well over 200 exhibitions, 32 of them solo, twenty garnering awards,  Hensel’s desire to communicate stories through art continues to be a powerful motivator. 

Hensel’s artwork is known and collected nationwide, represented in collecting libraries and  museums as disparate as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Getty Research  Institute with major holdings at Minnesota Center for Book Arts , University of Washington, Baylor  University and University of Colorado at Boulder. Archives pertaining to her artists books will be  available for study at the University of Washington Libraries in Seattle in 2017. 

In recent years Hensel has been awarded multiple grants and residencies through the Jerome  Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, and Ragdale Foundation. 

Hensel’s curatorial work began in 2000 in East Lansing, Michigan with the Art Apartment and  deepened with ownership of the Susan Hensel Gallery. Hensel has curated over seventy  exhibitions of emerging and mid-career artists from all over the United States and Canada.

for more information visit their website: https://susanhenselprojects.com/