In the Studio with Ghada Amer: Sewing and Embroidery

“I have been sewing since I was a child. I used to help my mom make dresses. It was in Egypt at the time, and it was expensive to buy already-made clothes. My mother is a chemist; she has a Ph.D. and is an agronomist, and she wanted to be very well dressed. So she decided to go to sewing school while she was working so she could learn how to make a professional suit. So she began, and when my four sisters and I were born, she taught us to do the same.

I thought it was a good medium to speak about women. It was an activity where, when I was growing up, women would gather and sew together—my mother and all of her female friends, my grandmother, the grandmothers of all the neighbors of our house. But all of the designers were men, which was very annoying. And painting has historically been male-dominated; in my art history classes, there are no references to any females, just men, men, men, men. So I thought this was a good way to talk about women and language ... That’s why I wanted to paint with sewing it, but out of necessity, not out of loving the craft.” — Ghada Amer

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Photographs by Alec Bastian