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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