The ancient art of embroidery—like a thread through history—dates back to the dawn of human civilization.
For as long as clothes have existed, so have mending and sewing been needed; their techniques have changed surprisingly little. Mothers and grandmothers throughout ages, and in most cultures, have passed down the art of embroidery to daughters and granddaughters.
Today, one Spanish artist from Valencia, a coastal city along the Mediterranean, is taking this practical artform to new artistic heights: Raquel Rodrigo creates brilliant cross-stitching to adorn whitewashed buildings along rustic streets in her hometown—and beyond.
The aspiration behind her floral weaving works of art, Rodrigo says, is to “bring light to the feminine art that has dressed homes for many years and throughout the world,” namely, cross-stitch embroidery. “I wanted to capture the flowers that were embroidered on cushions, sheets, towels from houses, [and bring them onto] the street, breaking the barrier between public and private,” she told The Epoch Times.
Her materials mainly consist of metal mesh, cotton, velvet, or silk cords. Weaving on metal grid, one square meter takes Rodrigo, plus one helper, about two days to complete. Once done, the works are matched and mounted to brick or stucco siding.
Plain but alluring rustic buildings receive an added shot of color and are dressed up in exquisite floral patterns. Like Easter eggs, brightly embroidered blossoms may hide inside nooks of maze-like brickwork. They interact with storefronts and windows and adorn other architecture. Rodrigo also shows her work in commercial spaces and galleries.
This ancient artform has for millennia gone mostly unaltered; but Rodrigo has introduced new technology into the mix.
“I first see the space and let it inspire me, what works in the place,” she said. “I take photos and work on the sketch from the computer with digital collage techniques.
“When I find the drawing, I transform it into pixels to create the patterns that we use to embroider on the metallic fabric. Once the piece is finished, we go to the place and fix it to the walls.”
Beyond Valencia, Rodrigo has work in Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and Madrid, where she debuted her architectural décor in 2011.
She shares the time-honored craft that was handed down to her. “My mother taught me how to embroider when I was little,” she said. “And a few years ago, I took advantage of this technique to design new façades on the street.”
She added, “I really like working in the street because it is a way of breaking down the barrier that there is with the museum of bringing art to more people.”