Contemporary embroiderist Emilie Luckett focuses on strong feminist messages that speaks directly to a young generation of empowered women.
BL: Where did you learn to embroider?
EL: I am completely self-taught. My grandmother has experience with embroidery, but it was never a skill that was passed on. Before I started my practice, I always believed embroidery was just cross-stitching pillows and things like that. However, once I discovered the world of contemporary embroidery [I] realized it could be anything you wanted. It was completely different from cross-stitch [and] I was inspired to explore it myself. I started with simply just stitching quotes and song lyrics, and this evolved into the work I am creating now.
BL: I notice a lot of your work has feminist statements attached to them. Where do you find the inspiration for this and why is it important to share that message?
EL: My inspiration for speaking on feminist narratives — particularly with the theme of empowerment of the feminine — comes from simply being someone who identifies as female. It comes from being surrounded by other women. I listen to their stories and experiences, I reflect on my own and translate this into a visual representation.
BL: Tell me more about your workshops. Can anyone join?
EL: I hold workshops periodically around the Denver-Metro area that focuses on teaching the community the basics of contemporary embroidery.
By contemporary embroidery, I mean a practice of embroidery that uses both traditional methods as well as new methods of stitching to create pieces of art. A way I like to describe it is to imagine your favorite painting, illustration, typography, etc., and now imagine it done with embroidery instead of paint, pen or so on. It is essentially drawing but with thread.
Absolutely anybody can join in on these workshops. While I do limit the number of participants to keep things manageable, I make sure to keep my price points fair so that most income brackets can sign up. I keep in mind public transportation when I pick my locations, and I always work hard to make sure my workshops are as inclusive as possible. As someone who grew up in a low-income family and is now an [art history] college student, I try to keep in mind if I am not able to afford or get to my workshops in a way that is sensible — how are others supposed to?
BL: If you could tell someone starting out as an artist one thing, what would it be?
EL: I think the most important thing I would tell someone who is wanting to become a working artist is that you need to be ready to hustle. There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to create art that you love and that others love, too. But you also need to make sure you are valuing the work you are creating and recognizing the different avenues in which you can express that value. This stereotype of the starving artist is tiring. Work hard, express your value and make things happen. I’m over here rooting for you!
BL: Why is it important to support local artists?
EL: Supporting local artists is just like supporting your local mom and pop store. When you buy from a local artist, share their post, tell your friends about them, commission a piece of art, go to their workshops, and so on, you are directly supporting the livelihood of that person. You help them pay their bills, put food on their table and also just let them know you appreciate and enjoy what they’re putting out into the world. You also support culture, the spreading of important ideas, and a more aesthetically beautiful world as a whole.
Art is such a vital part of society, and by supporting the people who create it, you’re making a larger contribution than you might think.
BL: Where do you hope to be in five years? How do you hope your career will grow and evolve?
EL: Hopefully, in five years I have gotten my Bachelor in Art History, will be working on my Masters and have finally figured out a way to meld together both my art history and embroidery careers. However, I am still very young and am open to whatever life wants to throw my way.
I will always be embroidering. It is a part of who I am now, and I don’t think I will ever stop. I am fortunate to be where I am now and am extremely excited to see what I will be doing in the future.
Follow Emilie Luckett @yungemilie | EmilieLuckett.com