Ellen Schinderman is a visual artist who uses stitching — as in, needle and thread — to counter destructive social structures of patriarchal beauty standards, sexual manipulation, and body shaming. Employing “traditional” mediums and genres associated with feminine domesticity and innocent pastime, Schinderman turns those tired paradigms on their heads. Her works range from the cheekily pornographic to the hearfelt and confessional, political, feminist, and poetic. As a curator, her Stitch Fetish shows have grown from offbeat local phenomenon into an international creative community.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ELLEN SCHINDERMAN: I can’t remember not being an artist, though I wasn’t always a visual artist. I grew up a performer, and always had great respect maker artists, because, coming from theater, my art was ephemeral. I find it very satisfying to make things now.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
“I’m the dirty stitcher,” though that’s not really as true any more, but it’s how I started, with curating the Stitch Fetish exhibitions.
When was your first show?
January of 2009 at Gallery 1988. In 2007 I wondered what porno would look like needlepointed, and I fell down a rabbit hole. In 2008 I showed Gallery 1988 what I was doing and they said, that while I couldn’t show the dirty, would I like to make something for an upcoming Beastie Boys tribute — not only was I excited to show but I’m a huge BBoys fan, so that was amazing.
Bonus answer: first press was in Hustler, which was (is) hilarious.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
Five of my “text ladies,” are on exhibit in Threads at the Rheged Center in Penrith in the UK, through June 30th. Beyond that I’m mostly focused on making for my solo show at BG Gallery in April of 2020.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I like podcasts and books on Audible. I like true crime stuff like Dirty John and Serial. Books I’ve already read so I don’t miss much if I space out. The Beastie Boy Book was fun to listen to, I love them.
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