Lisa Lackey - Textile Artist

Artist's Statement



Capturing the inherent beauty of life’s little moments is my muse. Acknowledging the large events is easy to do.  We all capture those moments in our lives, usually in photographs.  Gotcha! is one such life event: The day a family received their adopted daughter and got to hold her in their arms for the first time. But those major events are rather few and far between.  To live a happy, fulfilled lives, within the turmoil of our everyday worlds of family, work, and social responsibilities, it is ever more necessary to find as much joy and beauty as possible in the everyday moments.  And they all around us.  Constantly and consistently.  We just have to awaken ourselves to see them.


If we look up from our iPhones during our morning or evening commutes, we might notice, with  a gasp, the Grandmother reading about death, the manspread sitting across from us, or the young girl donning patterns of pink while her brother, licking an ice cream cone, is captivated by a man doing a crossword puzzle. (6 AV LCL)


When we relish the colors, textures and playful compositions in our day-to-day world, we see things like the playful shadows of the dancing leaves as we take a moment to wave hello to ourselves. (In the Shadows) Or notice the intense light on the sand as we walk with our sister and her dog during a windy, fall sunset at the beach.  (Sisters, Sister’s Dog, Sister’s Feet, Sisters’ Heads, The Other Feet)


Being conscious of these moments means not only listening to your friend during an intense conversation, but watching his gestures articulate his beliefs. The movement of his hands becomes a beautiful dance on the limited stage of a table. (Conversation Series)


I capture these images first in photographs to preserve them and then later, transform them into textile “paintings.” I aim to recreate those seconds from life, rendering them exactly as they were, with fabrics that matches not only color, but weave structure as well.  If they were wearing red silk, it is a piece of red silk that I use in the collage, flannel is used for flannel, and so on.  It is not just about recreating the color, but also the textures.


After having collaged the fabrics and sewn them down by machine, recreating the image’s shapes and textures on a canvas backing, I stretch the work and the hand stitching begins. This part of my process is the most time consuming.  I use different embroidery techniques to capture light and shadow as well as significant details of pattern.  My goal is to bring light and depth to the image while balancing the visual information to just what is required to tell the story, to retain the composition’s graphic power.


While sewing MS839: UP (a stairwell in the school where I teach) I realized I was capable of creating something that has the presence of photorealism.  This has taken my work deeper into the nuances of thread color and details. Looking back to the piece Primary, where I was restricting myself to a minimum color palette, reminds me of what can be done with minimalism. It is these two ends of my creative spectrum that I constantly consider as I find my balance.


All of my work references time. The first, most direct reference is the capturing of brief moments out of an entire lifetime of experiences.  The second relationship to time is within the historical context of working with techniques derived from and passed down by generations of women, going back centuries. Overlaid over all this is the time it takes me to recreate each image. I am drawn to this process, which slows down each split second of time into hours, as I rebuild its image, layer by layer, and stitch by stitch. 

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