Jill Magi, senior lecturer in the Writing Program at NYU Abu Dhabi, is an artist, critic and educator who works in text, image, and textile. Magi’s exhibition, Might (Writing and Stitching), on display at the NYUAD Arts Center Project Space until September 20, reflects the artist’s liaisons between text and textile.
In her work, she often embroiders replicas of sections from her private notebook containing sketches, drafts, and inspirations. The end result questions the idea of private and public as separate realms. Unlike traditional embroidery, these inscribe unfinished and unfiltered ideas; they include dashes through words (as seen in the exhibition title) echoing scratches through the artist’s thoughts.
One central piece, entitled LABOR, displays her embroideries on a low pedestal inviting the viewer to study the labor-intensive stitch. Magi’s formal exploration of color and texture in this piece echoes modernist experimentation with monochrome painting. Embedded in the work, she creates a few white-on-white embroidered sections, sometimes layered underneath darker embroidery, giving a sense of ideas erased, or whispered.
Magi’s usage of wrinkled unbleached muslin fabric resembling crumpled notebook paper interacts with the idea of the draft or sketch. Yet, her embroidery on this fabric shows the tension between her product and her process as the embroidery suggests the permanence of the text onto the fabric.
Magi’s Might (Writing and Stitching) can help us widen our understanding of what conceptual textile work can achieve.
Magi is also the author of LABOR, Threads, Torchwood, SLOT, Cadastral Map.