‘It Was Invisible’: Spanish Artist Bringing Embroidery to the Streets | street art

wIt is a bunch of yellow flowers wrapped around a window in it Spain or dozens of pink roses cascading down a house in Switzerland, there’s a familiar note that permeates Raquel Rodrigo’s street art.

For most of the past decade, the Spanish artist has been bringing her unique style to cities around the world, harnessing a technique that stretches back thousands of years out of the shadows.

“It’s the embroidery that women have always worn indoors on sheets, towels and pillows,” Rodrigo said. “This is about getting that embroidery out on the streets.”

To that end, she accurately reproduces the craft’s hallmarks—colorful flowers, solid lines and raised textures—on a grand scale, installing designs on everything from the stairs to Storefronts.

The result, Rodrigo said, is a style that seeks to live in the blurred space between the public and the private, by pushing something as intimate as home embroidery into the spotlight.

The Valencia-born artist came up with the idea in 2011 after being commissioned to decorate a storefront in Madrid that offered sewing workshops. As she searches for a way to embody the shop’s raison d’être, her mind returns to the cross stitch technique she learned from her mother as a young girl.

Using a computer to draw the pattern, I designed A wave of scarlet roses The interface deteriorates. From there I printed out an embossed pattern to trace, and carefully sewed it onto a storefront-mounted metal mesh.

Storefront with stitched pattern.
The buildings are fitted with a metal mesh, to which Rodrigo sews her designs. Photography: Fanny Bellonel / Mathilde Musse

This technique quickly became her signature. as her project Archicouture — a Spanish portmanteau of architecture and tailoring — he brought it to cities like London, Istanbul, and Philadelphia, and feedback poured in from all over the world.

Some saw reminders of their childhoods in her work, while others were inundated with memories of grandmothers and mothers. Continuous references to female characters revealed the broader significance of the work. “Over time, I realized that this is a way of affirming female art that had been invisible for so long,” said the 38-year-old.

The teachings that her family had passed down for generations became the backbone of her workshop in Valencia. Depending on the project, she works with teams of up to 50 people to replicate the intricacies of embroidery on a large scale.

This process takes a long time. It takes two people up to three days to embroider a square meter. Among those who occasionally help out in the workshop is her mother, a nod to wisdom handed down decades ago when she tried to keep her children entertained.

After years spent crossing the globe, Rodrigo is continually struck by the ability of her craft on paper above the differences. “I was in a village in Russia four years ago and the locals didn’t speak English, so we couldn’t understand each other.”

Instead, needlework, stitching, and spinning did the heavy lifting, bridging cultural and language differences. “We found that we can work together without having to understand each other.”

When the project was over, she was kicked out in tears and hugs. “It was a magical thing to be able to convey so much through embroidery,” she said. “It really is an international language.”

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