Embroidered Moss Moss, Baby!

There’s a fine line between art and craft. But maybe there shouldn’t be. Not always considered “high brow,” I  used to think craft was an un-clever hobby for women who wanted to make sparkly  wreaths with glue-guns. I was naive, and I was stereotyping.

However, my ideas were challenged after hearing a brilliant friend and artist, Krystle Brewer, Exhibitions Director of 108 Contemporary in Tulsa speak on behalf of craft art, and after visiting the Textile Museum in Washington D.C. Wow to both. Ego shook. (And if you haven’t visited these two institutions, at least visit their websites. They have some super cool happenings in both the Oklahoma and D.C. communities!)

So in honor of arts AND crafts, I am focusing today’s post on a Maryland-based photographer and embroiderer that I discovered on Instagram, Emma Mattson. You might have to do a double-take for this artist, who uses dark and earthy hues of thread to create realistic, moss-like landscapes. I find Mattson’s embroidered moss to be equally life-like as whimsical and definitely a cross-over to world of fine-art.






I enjoy landscapes with a lot of colorful plants and want to work more with the idea of subjects getting lost or buried in the textured land. My moss embroideries mimic a natural texture and can be seen as a miniature landscape.

Mattson’s pieces remind of a book I am currently reading, Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, which densely narrates the life of Alma Whittaker, a female botanist living in the 19th century who studies moss throughout her lifetime. While reading Gilbert’s book, I learned that moss is actually a tiny ecosystem that parallels our own forests. Cool! And I think Mattson skillfully presents these micro-worlds with precise texture while challenging the role of thread, a medium which can adversely symbolize how I used to think of craft, through a tainted lens of labor, gender, and low-brow aesthetics.

Specifically, I love how craft art is defying the role of women as “crafters,” otherwise not skilled enough to be “real” artists but can make something useful for the home. By using a traditional loom as a frame, Mattson’s embroidery contains more than quilt-stitch, representing an organism that has been around longer than the patriarchy. While probably not correlated, I think Alma Whittaker would be very keen to Mattson’s skilled craft. 🙂


So, cheers to challenging your ideas on craft, moss, and female botanists; because the underdog is always much more than what it seems.






Dusty Soul Thursdays | Thanksgiving Day

The Dusty Soul is taking a break today to carve some turkey and reflect in gratitude. I wrote a triple haiku (not sure if that’s an actual literary term) for today, accompanied by a picture of my dad and me being funny while we carved the turkey. 

The poem, however, is about thinking beyond our immediate  blessings, even on today.

I Carved a Turkey:

Dusty Soul Thursdays – A Film Review By: Yours Truly

Hello All, and welcome back to Dusty Soul Thursdays! It’s a little overwhelming to comprehend all that is happening in our country right now. My introverted (and privileged) soul says to hide under the covers with my cat, but my brain and heart say, “No! You must get up!” “Get up and do your job, and keep sharing compassion through art.” So that’s what I’m thinking about lately.

In lieu of keeping up with the art of the world this week, I’m posting my most recently published piece, a film review (whoop, whoop, love me some good indie flicks) that I saw at the Oklahoma City Art Museum. The film is called “The Lovers and the Despot,” a story about two South Korean film-makers and lovers who are allegedly kidnapped by Kim Jong-il to enhance the North Korean film industry. And, story, go…

Ironically, this film fits in well with the current political climate – the whatnots of propaganda and how people gain and retain followers- while begging the question, when are stories not used for personal marketing?

You can currently read on the online version on Art Review Oklahoma, or stay tuned for the printed, Winter 2017 issue!


Dusty Soul Thursdays – The Weather Project

I struggled to muster up the mental energy to write this post today. I thought I would not find inspiration or excitement to share my words, but I’m here. I’m showing up. And I’m ready to dust off your soul from a truly eventful week.

A colleague of mine posted a photo yesterday from Olafur Eliasson’s (a Danish-Icelandic, large-scale installation artist) Instagram, which provided the fuel for this post (Thanks, Mandy!), so here it goes:

When I was 20, I studied abroad in England. I was young, naive and still finding myself. Couple my young heart with temporarily relocating to a foreign country, and I had a messy recipe for one, giant learning experience on my hands.

While there are MANY ridiculous and heart-felt moments I could document from that semester, one afternoon in particular will always stick with me. My girlfriends and I were taking a day trip to London, and we decided to visit The Tate Modern, a contemporary art museum along the Thames River.

I had just taken an Art Since 1945 class, and nearly every artist we studied was exhibited in that museum. As a small-town girl from Oklahoma, seeing those artists in person was like nothing I had ever experienced. Something in me ignited.

In particular, an Eliasson exhibit, The Weather Project, was showing in Turbine Hall, a large, industrial space that displayed a huge, semi-circle made from hundreds of orange, mono-frequency lamps that mirrored a reflection from the ceiling, creating a full representation of the sun.


I remember laying on the ground and feeling the vibrations of this giant, glowing star above me. That radiant orange light sinking into my pores, grounded to the cement earth.

That was the first time I was completely engulfed with art. I was swallowed. I was still. I was a part of a force greater than myself, and I’ll never, ever forget that moment.

I believe that was one of the few baptisms I will experience in my waking life. Seeing this photo yesterday reminded me of how truly lucky I am. And I was reminded of faith.

It is clear that we have to reinvent the cultural sector from within, further developing its potential to become an agent for societal change.

The quote above is from Eliasson’s post from yesterday. If you are interested in reading the the full statement, you can find it on his website. I hope The Weather Project, if you have seen it in person or just through your computer screen, offers up some illumination for your future, because we could all use a little light right now.

Thanks for reading.

xoxo, The Dusty Soul

Dusty Soul Thursdays – Helga Winter

Welcome to Dusty Soul Thursdays! Each Thursday, I’ll be highlighting a favorite artist that I’ve discovered that will surely dust off your soul from the week!

Man, you guys, I cannot stop thinking about Helga Winter‘s sculptural paintings! A well-known wood turner and painter, this lady, who I saw displayed in The White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach, Oregon, takes pages from used books, tints them with pigmented beeswax, rolls them, and then adheres them to a box frame. Standing in front of these pieces, you see what looks like a 2D painting, but at closer glance, you can see the individual pages and text as 3D work.

While the books she uses as a whole are illegible, I think these sculptural painting allows us to look at literature (and the visual arts) in a new light. She’s exposing the individual pages and turning these books inside out! Plus, is her use of color and pattern not completely delicious??



This artist is a true inspiration for my book idea on how the combination of written and visual language makes us think more deeply! More on that to come. 🙂 Thanks, Helga!

What do you think? Is Helga defacing literature, or is she providing you with an oh-shit-that’s-awesome visual experience?

Dusty Soul Thursdays – Two Artists Who Use Bones as Medium

Welcome to Dusty Soul Thursdays! Each Thursday, I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite artists from Oklahoma and beyond that will surely dust off your soul from the week!

This week, we’re talking bones, baby, and in honor of the greatest American holiday – Halloween – it’s time to get your subversive on with these tantalizing female artists who use our marrow as a medium.

To commence this post, I’m sharing a poem I wrote, “bones,” on the ephemeral nature of climate and the fragility of our physical bodies.


OK… time for the art!

Lindsey Allgood | Oklahoma/Oregon

Lindsey is a wonderfully talented artist, writer, and teacher that I love following on social media! She was a part of my Oklahoma Art Writing and Curatorial Fellowship in 2015 and since then has blown me away with her writing, sculpture, and performance art.

Lindsey’s use of small, delicate objects, skeleton bones, and even human hair produces sculptural and ephemeral work of feminine phenomena, organic reciprocation, and cooking metaphors that are as inciting as they are grotesque.



I love how Lindsey challenges the function of a traditional drinking vessel in “Cup.” The daintiness of a clear champagne glass now serves as a burial ground for a small, animal skull. Does this sculpture imply rot and death among traditionally feminine objects, like pearls? Maybe. Do I dig it for both its implied meaning and aesthetic qualities? YES.

Check out a few more of Lindsey’s bone-based works below.

Lin Tianmiao | Beijing, China

Tianmiao is one of my all-time favorite artists. I first learned about her while taking a Contemporary Chinese Art graduate school course at Oklahoma State University. She is the first Chinese woman that I’ve read to explicitly state that there is no feminism in China, a concept I ponder over, on average, two to fifteen times a day.

I love her wrapped bones. She has stated that she values process over product in her meticulous work of wrapping small and large-scale objects with dyed thread, however, I believe her process inspires her products into haunting and decorative pieces that provide a feminine perspective.

Tianmiao wraps more than just bones for her installations! Check out her stunning work in my favorite exhibit of hers, Bound Unbound, which include the works above.

To bones! Happy Halloween!

xo, TDS