Suture - a joining of the edges of a wound with stitching. One’s skin is essentially a living fabric, a leather of sorts. The surgeon and the embroiderer skillfully mend the tears and cuts in their respective fabrics with needle and thread, leaving behind little evidence of their activity.
Both surgery and embroidery have histories that are thousands of years old. A brief look at linguistics illustrates their link and intersection. The Greek root for “surgery” is chirurgi, which translates to “hand-work.” In contemporary times, this phrase refers to embroidery.
The voice speaking in my work is female. The embroiderer has practiced the traditional stitches of darning, but educates herself in the craft of surgery. She studies medical manuals. She records the patterns she sees under the microscope. She has no patience for sentimental hearts and flowers, but finds beauty in the body’s interior landscape.
My investigation into the intersections between the surgical and textile crafts began with my own struggles with cancer. I returned to this work in 2003 after an emergency appendectomy. The surgeon used a vertical mattress stitch to suture my abdomen. As an embroider I could not help but admire his needlework skill.