On February 7, 2015 The Hive Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles hosted its third annual Stitch Fetish show. If you thought that I was talking about erotic needlepoint you thought correctly. Stitch Fetish, curated by Ellen Schinderman, is a collective show of over thirty artists from around the world who created erotic works through the medium of crochet, stitching, and knitting. From pillows to quilts, portraits to dolls, this cheeky show comments on how we idealize and criticize sexuality and the human form. Erotica is generally associated with works conceived to stimulate the genitals, whereas Stitch Fetish intends to bring a sense of humor to the conversation.
Stitch Fetish 3
729 S. Spring St. LA, CA 90014
February 7, 2015 – February 28, 2015
“There are so many things that I think are funny to see stitched, because stitching has become thought of as a feminine art. Erotica shows tend to be very male fantasy oriented—you know, perfected idealized women, very graphic sex. And so this show, between my point of view and the medium, is a show of erotica that is so not terribly dirty and more amusing than sexual in a lot of ways.” Ellen Schinderman
One of the qualities of the show that supports this statement is that many of the works depict real human physical traits, like pimples on the derriere or hairy nipples. This is far from hypersexual masochistic indulgences. Not only does this comment on our ideals of sexuality, but it also counters the approach that media, entertainment, and the porn industry has taken to portray the ideal body. Rather than reflecting an institution of fear, Stitch Fetish reveals real human nature and celebrates the fearlessness of self-acceptance.
“We all have sex and we all look silly doing it, and if you’re not laughing while you’re having sex then you’re probably not doing it right at some point—not saying you should be laughing at every minute. And I think that’s what’s so great about this show, is that it captures the joy and silliness of sexuality more than what you’re supposed to look at, what’s pretty, what’s hot.” Ellen Schinderman
I can’t recall the exact quote by photographer Steven Arnold, but he commented on how sometimes people would view his work and would laugh, which he did not take as an insult, but was rather satisfied as it meant that a part of them was opening up to a concept that was alien to them. We tend to be humored by things we do not understand, but the initial stage of acceptance and adaptation is humor. Laughing at the bizarre is often a transformative experience of emotionally connecting to something foreign. Those that come to Stitch Fetish who are seeing such art for the first time laugh and smile and have fun, as I witnessed. We’re all familiar with sex, but that does not necessarily mean that we are all comfortable with it, or our bodies. America especially is just coming around to LGBTQ rights. A number of the works at Stitch Fetish naturally exposed some humor to this tense social and political issue.
“I think that we’re having a discussion in America about not being so binary in general. 2014 was and I think 2015 is going to continue being the year of transsexuality. We’ve done gay pride—not that there’s not still parts of America that need to be waken the hell up—but I think the next big battleground is, even in the gay community, for people to accept gray areas. It’s not gay, straight, bi. And it’s not boy and girl, missionary or anal.” Ellen Schinderman
Stitch Fetish is a platform to relax people’s tension about expectations placed upon them by society. It is humorous artwork meant to address serious social and personal issues that affect people’s lives worldwide. Such issues that lead to depression, persecution, and even execution. At some point somebody has to find a common ground that we can all relate to and which we can have a civil conversation. Ellen Schinderman found that point through art by taking off the mask of human sexuality.
Event photos courtesy of Ambrose Gardenhire