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Reading between the lines JUDITH SOLODKIN’S ART BOOKS



When Master Printer Judith Solodkin accepted the job of

turning Louise Bourgeois' 36 page, fabric-on-fabric book

Ode àà L'Oubli(see Selvedge issue 20) into an edition of

25, she turned her prestigious Manhattan print studio

and gallery, Solo Impression, Inc., into something akin to

a sewing circle. She tufted, quilted, pinned, dyed,

embroidered and appliquééd, with the help of ten

dedicated interns, for the year and a half it took to

complete the complex project.

With new sewing skills and a six needle Baby Lock

Embroidery machine at her disposal, Solodkin wanted to

continue working with embroidery but she also had a busi

ness to run. So she sought out artists making embroidered

art that inspired her. Kent Henricksen was one of the first –

the young artist hand-embroiders hooded figures engaging

in sinister activities atop the pastoral landscapes of

found, decorative fabrics. In 2005 Henricksen

worked with Solodkin on a set

of lithographs on linen with

digital embroidery. It was

the first time he'd collab

orated so Solodkin


him through unfamiliar territory and acquainted him with

new possibilities. “My work has a lot of fine embroidery,

which Judith accommodated by manipulating the digital

embroidery stitch by stitch,” Henricksen describes. “Her

attention to detail is amazing.”

During their second collaboration on The Noble

Savage, Henricksen reduced the number of colours and

simplified the frame. Solodkin applauded his modifications.

“I speak my mind,” she says “I was once on a panel with

master printer Ken Tyler, who said that when he printed for

Frank Stella, he was Frank Stella. But I said, ‘When I'm

printing, I'm me.’ I have to give my opinion.”

Judith also worked with Liliana Porter, who had never

used embroidery before. Her works feature Chinese motifs

unravelling, Tiger Vpounces on his own stitched tail and a

dragon pulls apart a silk cloud. With artist Elaine Reichek

Judith created two sampler series titled Collections for

Collectors. Each embroidered sampler is based on a fine art

image. Reichek also produced The Pounds, 1913at Solo

Impression, an edition of digital embroidery and thread on

book paper that includes a memorable quote from Ezra

Pound to the woman he would later marry: “It is not as if

embroidery exercised any faculty or required any special

ized concentration. It's not much better than smoking...”

Solodkin herself refuses to distinguish between high

and low. “Paper and fibre are, to me, synonymous,” she

says. “The history of print includes printed fabrics...

Making them into separate categories is beyond me. It's the

idea that's primary. When artists ask me what they should

do, I say - yes! Do anything.” •••Sabrina Gschwandtner

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