Cayce Zavaglia

Cayce Zavaglia (b1971) is an artist from St Louis, Missouri, who introduced embroidery into her paintings when she was expecting her first child. Zavaglia’s embroidered paintings are hyperrealistic portraits of family members and friends, made with meticulous precision and attention to detail. Each embroidered portrait is set against a solid, non-patterned background painted in acrylic. Trained in a classical painting technique, the artist attempts to replicate a brushstroke with a stitch, mixing different threads according to techniques of colour blending learned while at school.

Despite Zavaglia’s classical representational vocabulary, she welcomes experimentation and change, expanding the limits allowed by classical portraiture by introducing various media into the realm of the genre. Photography joins embroidery as another crucial element of Zavaglia’s portraits because, unlike a classical painter, she works exclusively from photographs. The artist’s proclivity for portraying people she trusts as beautiful, strong and timeless found a counterpart in the embroideries’ reverse, where facial features become obscured by unwanted threads and knots. Zavaglia found an inspiring metaphor in the discovery of this reverse image, as it indicates, for her, the unseen and unpolished side of the human psyche. Apart from opening up the reverse side of her embroidered paintings to the viewer by displaying them on stands in the manner of sculpture, Zavaglia also found a way back to painting by focusing on this reverse side and documenting it in her hyperrealistic style in various stages of completion. She spoke to us at the opening of her solo exhibition at Lyons Wier Gallery in New York.

...Cayce Zavaglia: I grew up in Australia. My embroidery pieces stem from a work I made as a kid, in which I embroidered an image of a sheep station out of crewel wool. Something... (
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First Collected by

Stoffel De la Montagne


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