Art

In Stitches

Alaina Varonne has got it all sewn up with her intricate, erotic, beautiful and funny embroidery art.

Interview by Lora Wiley - lora@citizenbrooklyn.com Art by Alaina Varonne
Red © Alaina Varrone

Red © Alaina Varrone

Citizen Brooklyn: When did you first learn to sew?

I first learned to sew around 8 years old, my mom was an avid sewer and crafter, so when she first noticed my natural inclination towards arts and craft, she would buy me kits and patterns to try out. I learned embroidery techniques as a child but didn’t incorporate it into my fine arts education until my freshman year of college in 2001.

Soldiers © Alaina Varrone

Soldiers © Alaina Varrone

CBK: What gave you the idea to take embroidery to the erotic arena?

My embroidery’s always been autobiographical more than anything, so more erotically charged pieces were a natural process. I never set out to make Erotic Art, and I still don’t consider myself an erotic artist, for me it’s just another natural part of the human experience. Being a pervert doesn’t hurt either!

Alligator Float  © Alaina Varrone

Alligator Float © Alaina Varrone

CBK: You’ve studied fiber arts, cultural anthropology and theology. How do these collectively influence your work?

I’m just fascinated by people…they’re beliefs and practices and lifestyles…and faces are my favorite thing to stitch! So my pieces always center around characters. I’ll make up a story in my head and then condense it into a single frame narrative. Of course in these stories there will be symbols and gestures from what I learned, how I was raised; the more esoteric pieces are deeply personal.

Bring Dat Booty © Alaina Varrone

Bring Dat Booty © Alaina Varrone

CBK: Why a strong focus on female characters?

Females are usually the focus on most of my embroideries because I understand them best. Whenever I try to stitch men I don’t quite understand their perspective in a story, I can infer, but I’m unable to really step into that character totally like I could with a female character’s perspective. And each piece is much more personal than it initially appears to be, so every character has some element of myself in it. My experiences aren’t unique by any means, I just use them to try to bring some sincerity, I want the viewer to step into that character too. Those have always been my favorite pieces of art, the ones I can see myself in. It sounds terribly narcissistic but I can’t be the only one!

Fuck Me © Alaina Varrone

Fuck Me © Alaina Varrone

CBK: Where do you draw the line between pornography and art?

Pornography or art…hmm…well…for me, I’m trying to capture a moment, I guess that’s where the line is. I see a lot of erotic art that seems clinical to me, put that in there and do this; the woman as object for titillation; and that to me is just pornography. I realize there’s a market for that but that’s not what I set out to do. Heck, I don’t even intend to make Erotic Art, it just ends up that way. The eroticism is secondary to the relationship I’m trying to convey.

I am Your Hound © Alaina Varrone

I am Your Hound © Alaina Varrone

CBK: On average, how long does it take to do one piece? Take us through the process.

On average it takes about a month to do a whole piece. It starts with a story in my head, which I then draw out a few times on paper. Once I’m happy with a general idea of the design I redraw it on fabric. That part is very tense, it’s difficult free handing the same drawing twice, and you just can’t erase on fabric. Once that drawing’s finally down, I start filling in base color, then building and building from there. Every piece usually changes a bit from the initial drawing, thankfully I use a stitch style that can fill in and cover up any mistakes. I try not to mentally marry the initial drawing, as it’s a guarantee it won’t look the same by the end of it.

Bear © Alaina Varrone

Bear © Alaina Varrone

CBK: Some of your more complicated pieces that take over a year to complete, you’ve said you would never sell them. what do you plan to do with them?

I’m not totally opposed to selling the pieces that take over a year to complete, I just don’t think at this point in my career I’d be able to sell them for what they’re actually worth in both time and effort. Maybe someday, but for now because I’ve spent so much of my life with them, it’d be like giving away my children. I would show them in galleries more, but every show I’ve been involved in has made it mandatory that pieces be available for sale, so that’s my conundrum. I’d love for more people to see these elaborate works, but I don’t want to be forced to sell them at this point. After they’re sold, they can’t be shared in person again. I think a lot of up and coming artists have this same problem. Art seems like more of a business than a cultural exchange nowadays.

Beach Girls © Alaina Varrone

Beach Girls © Alaina Varrone

CBK: You balance the tone of many of your pieces between eroticism and humor. Why do you think they are linked?

I love a good sultry piece of smoldering eroticism, but for some reason I can’t quite capture that with my own work! In general my personality is pretty goofy and lighthearted, so serious pieces feel forced to me. People are weird, bodies do weird things, I’m just having some fun with it.

Familiars © Alaina Varrone

Familiars © Alaina Varrone

CBK: What are you working on now and where did the inspiration come from?

I’m currently working on a series of partiers–this is where those pictures of my friends and followers have been coming in handy! I’m inspired by vintage spring break and freaknik photos, and I’m fascinated by that youthful freedom because I never have experienced that. Right now there are a lot of smaller character snapshots, but now I’ve started the first of three large pieces(each 4ft oval frames) that will be group scenes at various locales.

Bodyhead © Alaina Varrone

Bodyhead © Alaina Varrone

Beach Bums © Alaina Varrone

Beach Bums © Alaina Varrone

Follow Alaina Varrone:

Website: http://www.alaina-varrone.com

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alainavarrone

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SpidersPaw/

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spiderspaw/

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