[New York City] Lyons Wier Gallery is pleased to announce our forthcoming exhibition "About-Face" by Cayce Zavaglia. Zavaglia’s meticulously hand-sewn portraits are exclusively of friends and family. Each piece uses one-ply cotton, silk and wool to realize the figure with an acrylic paint background that separates the foreground from the background. These labor-intensive art works read as photo-realistic paintings, and only after closer inspection is the work’s true construction revealed.
Zavaglia has developed a technique which has been described as “Modern Pointillism,” that allows her to blend colors and establish tonalities that truly resemble the techniques used in classical oil painting. The direction in which the threads are sewn mimic the way brush marks are layered within a painting which, in turn, gives the allusion of depth, volume, and form. Her stitching methodology borders on the obsessive. This system allows her to visually evoke painterly renditions of flesh, hair, and cloth.
Cayce Zavaglia’s embroidered portraits have facilitated her growing interest in a more re-contextualized approach to painting. By eliminating the use of paint to create her portraits and yet giving the illusion that it is still present has allowed Zavaglia to further tighten the tension between portrait and process and ultimately propose a new definition for “painting”. The work has the remarkable ability to conceptually transport the viewer into the emotional make-up of the sitter, creating a dialogue between each piece and its audience. This capacity moves her work beyond its technical prowess and into the realm of Conceptual Realism.
New to Zavaglia's oeuvre in this exhibition is the re-emergence of painting. "About-Face" will also featured a related series of small gouache and large-scale acrylic paintings. The paintings portray the verso, or reverse, side of her embroideries, revealing a portrait of loose ends, knots, and chaos corresponding to—but psychologically different from—the meticulously sewn front image. In the rich history of tapestry, the verso has traditionally been hidden from the viewer; here, Zavaglia exposes this concealed otherness, addressing the divergence between our presented and private selves.
Cayce Zavaglia received her MFA from Washington University, St. Louis, MO and BA from Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. Her embroideries have been shown at cultural institutions such as the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, Brattleboro Museum, VT, Textile Arts Center, Brooklyn, NY, Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, Staten Island, NY, Craft Alliance, St. Louis, MO and profiled in national publications such as Elle Décor, Surface Design Magazine, Fiber Arts Magazine and New American Paintings. Zavaglia’s work is part of the permanent collection at the University of Maine, Museum of Art, Bangor, ME, the West Collection, PA and the Shoeni Collection in Hong Kong, among others. The artist lives and works in St. Louis, MO.