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Marty Matisoff

Marty Matisoff

Kentucky Crafted Artist
  • Fiber


    My work is conceptual and interpretive. It reflects several art styles including abstract expressionism, German expressionism, Chinese watercolor painting and Japanese ink art. Expressionism focuses on emotions and responses. Japanese suiboku-ga (i.e., sumi-e) and Chinese shui mo hua focus on sublime beauty and elegance.

    Each embroidery begins with a freehand sketched doodle. The doodle is my “freewheeling" stage. During this stage, my mind is like an empty box waiting to be filled with abstract images. Once I finish the doodle, I manipulate it until I have the basic design for my embroidery. I then print the design onto a water-soluble stabilizer, then transfer the stabilizer to the background fabric.

    I do not choose my color palette when I start. I rely heavily on my knowledge of color theory. Each piece is created using a single strand of DMC six-stranded cotton floss or silk, polyester or rayon thread. I often include other materials to design to make it cohesive, such as clock gears, gold-color cord, beetle elytra, beads, spangles and sequins (e.g., Behemoth). Depending on the complexity and size of the embroidery, it can take as little as eight hours to complete a simple miniature or more than 100 hours for more complex pieces.

    I am an Ashkenazi Jew. Many of my descendants immigrated from Hungary, Russia and Ukraine, to avoid the violent pogroms. One embroidery is an abstract interpretation of the November Pogrom on Nov. 9-10, 1938, known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass). This event marked the beginning of Hitler's Final Solution and the deportation of Eastern and Western European Jews. The Nazis packed the Jews into train cattle cars and sent to them to the Polish extermination camps. A second related embroidery documents the long journey to the Nazi concentration and extermination camps, also known as the “death camps." A second embroidery is related to this event is an abstract view of the Block 11 in Auschwitz-Birkenau known as the “death block." By the end of the war on Sept. 2, 1946, Hitler's Nazis had killed nearly six-million Eastern and Western European Jews.

    I am currently working on a group of embroideries that are meditative in nature. The pieces are based on my studies of Japanese and Chinese ink and watercolor paintings, respectively.

    In 2023, I became an adjudicated member of the Kentucky Crafted Program. I am also a member of the Embroidery Guild of America, I am currently preparing for the March 2024 Kentucky Crafted Market, where I will be displaying my free-motion and hand embroidery. I hold a Bachelor of Arts from Western Illinois University and a Master of Science from University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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