Emily Manning-Mingle, one of four Artists-in-Residence at Gallery 263 this summer, has been stitching away on what she calls “fabric collages:” bright, layered, dynamic works on canvas. Although her background is in painting, she has been working on a series of multimedia pieces using fabric as paint. She works within the mindset of collage—she considers layering and juxtaposition, while at the same time she makes decisions about color and form like a painting. Her paintings and fabric collages are tangential and impact one another.
One aspect that makes these pieces difficult for Emily is how time-consuming and detail-oriented they are. She explains that creating these works is an opportunity to slow down, similar to reading a book or taking a walk. She finds the slowness intriguing and also frustrating at times, but Emily is up for the challenge. Her process is more than just making a piece of art; it is a meditation for her. The fabric collages are made using a sewing machine and hand embroidery. She says that time plays an important role in the making of the work: some places she finds it possible to streamline the process with a sewing machine, but other places require hand stitching.
As an oil painter in contemporary society, she can’t help but feel guilty about the waste oil paints produce when the ocean is melting. This is what drew her to explore untraditional painting mediums. Although she says oil painting gives her too much happiness to ever stop, she finds that using recycled materials in her fabric collages is her way of painting resourcefully. The materials she uses to make marks—a collection of every different color fabric, netting, thread, beads, buttons, and most recently fabric dye—are things she has found in her environment and are easily accessible. Every bit of fabric she uses is a piece of something else and has a history: a raggedy shirt, an ugly sweater, or the band off of old underwear.
Every small cutting of fabric is potential for Emily’s next project. Every piece of fabric had a different life and a different history that are all woven together to create a colorful and dynamic piece of art, transforming into it the life it lives now: displayed on a gallery wall. Emily’s work—with recognizable patterns—seems to carry nostalgia with it, sort of like how you feel when you look at your grandma’s quilts. Emily is inspired by the history of quilting, hand-made textiles and her family’s resourcefulness during the Great Depression; she also feels distant from the practice as someone who grew up in a suburb of New York City, without learning the craft from family members.
Emily wants her painting practice to stay open to all types of possibilities, and she says her use of fabric gives her so many more options. Her work raises questions about mortality, and about the line between “high” art and “low art.” She finds parallels with nature in her work, and with the cycles of life. But most of all, her attention to fine detail and layering of textures requires the viewer to slow down and just look, providing an opportunity to take a breath, and think, in a city that is always bustling.
We hope to see you at an upcoming Summer Residency event!
Public Critiques: Thursday, July 25, 7-9PM; Tuesday, August 13, 7-9PM
Exhibition: August 21 – August 24
Reception: Friday, August 23, 7-9PM