("The Night I Lost My Passport", 1997,
embroidery floss on linen, 11 inches by 16 inches)
*click to enlarge*
This is one of my first embroideries. It is based on a photo taken at the M&R Bar on Elizabeth Street in the Lower East Side. It was a great local watering hole, and one we used to frequent regularly in those days of singlehood where sleeping until noon the next morning was a de facto given. On this particular night, we wound up there in the wee hours of the morning and found a table in the back room, watched over by a menage of sultry flea market nudes.
It was a divine evening, as every night in NYC was wont to be in those days. That's me in the black cobweb-macrame top and Patricia Field cheerleading skirt. (I make no excuse for the outfit except to plead that it was the '90's and I was impressionable.) The Divine Italian is facing the wall, with his back toward the viewer. He was working at Blue Note Records and I was with Saatchi and Saatchi. We were young, carefree and fully in the thrall of la dolce vita.
At some point during the evening, I lost my passport. Having no driver's license at the time (I didn't get one until I turned 30), it was my only proof of identification and travelled everywhere with me. It probably fell out of my purse and got lodged underneath the banquette. At any rate, I never found it and had to endure (quelle horreur!) a three-week period of quiet evenings in before I received my replacement.
This piece took about 3 months to complete. On a piece layered with so much needlework, I encountered some problems with the fabric stretching and distorting my design. Each stitch exerts a tiny force in a different direction and over time, it's incredibly hard to retain the integrity of a piece. (Note: When I began to attach my pieces to a stretcher beforehand, this problem was lessened considerably.) In order to avoid this, I decided to embroider the paintings, the figure of Piero, and myself with my two friends on separate pieces of fabric. After completing them, I carefully cut them out, tucked under the edges and appliqued them onto the main background piece. Viewed in person, it gives them a very slight 3-D effect, which I like.
I appreciate this piece even more now than I did when I finished it, because it is a tangible reminder of a certain period of time in New York City -- before Disneyfication, chain store takeovers and endless boutique hotels, back when the Meatpacking District still sold meat, getting past the velvet rope depended not on celebrity, but on attitude and personal style, and when walking down the street in a mesh top and black bra was for one (mercifully brief) moment a fashion "do."