Recent Posts

Inflatable Climbing Frame Installation by Numen / For Use

Inflatable Climbing Frame Installation by Numen / For Use

How cool is this installation? I’m rubbish at heights to these photos fill me with horror, but I’d still queue up to have a go. If you scroll down to the last images you can see how the whole thing works. It’s a ‘self supporting […]

Damselfrau | Magnhild Kennedy Masks

Damselfrau | Magnhild Kennedy Masks

I have not one, but two masquerade balls to go to this year so I’ve been planning costumes like mad – I’m thinking a multi-coloured, over-the-top, beaded and embroidered floral mask/headdress thingy with tassels and possibly Pom Poms? I realise this is incredibly ambitious; it […]

Anthony Michael Simon | Flourescent Spider Web Sculptures

Anthony Michael Simon | Flourescent Spider Web Sculptures

Anthony Michael Simon’s sculptures, which at first glance look like fluorescent strings suspended in an abstract cat’s cradle arrangement, are actually the product of Nephila clavata spiders. The artist collects local arachnids, brings them to his studio, and lets them set about their work spinning […]

Sarah Mosteller | Knitting with Wire

Sarah Mosteller | Knitting with Wire

Sarah Mosteller is what I call a non-fiber fiber artist; she uses the traditional method of knitting but with wire instead of yarn, creating artwork that blurs the boundaries between fiber art and non fiber art. The resulting sculptures are powerful and full of contradictions. […]

Hanne Friis Smocked Sculptures

Hanne Friis Smocked Sculptures

For a while now I’ve been admiring the work of Norwegian textile artist Hanne Friis. Her sculptures are created by gathering and bunching various materials (latex gloves, stockings, denim) into these sumptuous, undulating shapes. There’s a bodily aspect to all her sculptures, particularly her work […]

Plastic Bag Embroidery – Josh Blackwell/Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown

Plastic Bag Embroidery – Josh Blackwell/Nicoletta Daríta de la Brown

A while back I came across these amazing floral-embroidered plastic bags via Pinterest, and without doing any actual research I let the caption tell me they were by artist Josh Blackwell, who also works with plastic bags. I now know that these are actually the […]

Chinese-American Identity Explored through Embroidery: Jessica So Ren Tang

Chinese-American Identity Explored through Embroidery: Jessica So Ren Tang

  I’ve recently discovered the incredible work of Chinese-American artist Jessica So Ren Tang. She currently has two bodies of work which both explore the multi-dualism in Asian-American identity. Her first series is sculpture based, and involves embroidered replicas of Chinese-American objects such as take […]

Fleshy fiber sculptures by Lorenzo Nanni

Fleshy fiber sculptures by Lorenzo Nanni

Just look at these fiber sculptures by Lorenzo Nanni! I am repulsed yet captivated. The skill and innovation in these works is truly impressive. There are a lot of fiber artists out there who’s works create a juxtaposition between the traditional and acceptable ‘feminine’ medium […]

Kate MccGwire Feather Sculptures

Kate MccGwire Feather Sculptures

I’m currently on a camping trip with my boyfriend in Wales, travelling from the Brecon Beacons to Pembrokeshire and then up to Snowdonia. Yesterday we hiked the Black Mounain for 10 hours in the rain and now everything I own is wet and the majority of […]

Emily Barletta Interview

Emily Barletta Interview

    I am absolutely in love with the work of New York based artist Emily Barletta. Her abstract patterns sewn onto paper blur the boundaries between drawing and stitching, while her crochet works are surreal sculptural forms that almost seem like living matter; coral […]


Chinese-American Identity Explored through Embroidery: Jessica So Ren Tang

Chinese-American Identity Explored through Embroidery: Jessica So Ren Tang

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I’ve recently discovered the incredible work of Chinese-American artist Jessica So Ren Tang. She currently has two bodies of work which both explore the multi-dualism in Asian-American identity.

Her first series is sculpture based, and involves embroidered replicas of Chinese-American objects such as take out boxes and cup noodle containers. These sculptures are made to scale and have even been mistaken for the real thing – such is her attention to detail.

For her second body of work Jessica embroiders young Asian women in suggestive poses, embellished with traditional Asian textile patterns. She leaves the signature black hair, removes the facial features, and adds white skin to suggest the stereotype of the submissive, weak, but exotic Asian woman.

Jessica spoke to me about her dual identity:

In various situations and interactions with people, I’m often either too American to be Chinese or too Chinese to be American. This weird ‘ping pong’ of identity is what I try to emulate when creating replicas; they take on the identity of the object but simultaneously reject the identity because of the medium. It’s hard for me to put into words, this feeling.

Jessica explained that her process and choice of medium is also linked to her heritage:

Embroidery is a slow and repetitive movement that often reminds me of Asian labor, particularly female labor and manufacturing. Each stitch I put in, especially in the food related objects (like the Chinese bowl, chrysanthemum tea box, and tea pot) reminds me of the invisible female labor that goes into family life, the food industry, and the manufacturing industry.

Jessica also talked about the theme of authenticity in her art, and how this too reflects aspects of her identity:

I am told I’m not Chinese because I don’t drink tea, I can’t read or write Chinese, I’m bad at math, etc. But I’m too foreign to be American; too Chinese. I don’t look like your everyday american.
In the same way, her Chinese bowl or take out box will never be the real thing, just a close second.  I recreate each detail to the best of my abilities but I cannot clone these objects. These sculptures can never be the original objects but they retain the same image.

Jessica received a Bachelor of Art in Studio Art from Mills College, Oakland, and has exhibited in various galleries. She shared her views on the art world with me;

There are some things about the art world that suck. As with many other industries/fields, the art world is male dominated. We’ve come a long way and it makes me happy when more female artists get recognition. Also the perception of embroidery and fiber/textile mediums is often considered lesser or more crafty and not fine art. However, the medium is getting more popular. Another is the lack of education for students wanting to pursue an artists career. Lots of people get “work for exposure”, often underpaid if they’re paid at all, and the field isn’t taken seriously as a career.

With all the artist I talk to, I like to get to know about their working process, their day-to-day studio life, and the things that keep them going while they work. Jessica’s told me a bit about her routine:

A typical day of work starts when I return home from my day job. I get home around 7pm, eat dinner and get settled down, and embroider anywhere between half an hour to three hours till I’m tired. On Saturdays, I wake around 6am to catch a Google hangout with Japanese doll artists. I work on my side non-embroidery project (sculpting a ball jointed doll out of paperclay) and when I have to wait for the clay to dry, I jump back to embroidery. The hangout typically ends around 10 or 11 and I get some food to eat and go back to my embroidery. I usually get several hours of work done on weekends, unless I have other errands or projects I’m working on.

When I started to embroider more, I would put on Disney movies but they were too distracting. Then I switched to Pandora stations of Disney songs, Bon Iver, Pheonix, or soundtrack music. Then I moved to putting on youtube playlists of people who play games or vlog their vacations at Disney World. (I’m a big disney fan) Then I found out about live streams on Twitch and would listen to people playing various games. (Scary games are fun when the players freak out) Lately, when there isn’t a recent stream or if I have watched all the recorded streams, I’ve been listening to Disney songs in different languages.

To conclude I asked Jessica about artist that inspire her:

I definitely love Cayce Zavaglia’s work, Lisa Smirnova, and Ana Teresa Barboza’s work. As for non-embroidery artists, I love doll artists like Kseniya Shaburova, Ksusha Zhang, and Dongxu Sun. I have so many artists I admire.
Take a look a Jessica’s website for more incredible embroideries, and follow her progress on Instagram.