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Artist merges traditional cross-stitch with modern technology

Exhibit links embroidery and mobile computing

POSTED: January 30, 2014 1:00 a.m.

“Sampler,” an exhibit by Athens artist Didi Dunphy combining the traditional art of cross-stitch embroidery with mobile computing, is on display in the library of the University of North Georgia’s Cumming Campus.

The show features embroideries of square barcodes, known as QR codes, that can be scanned with tablets or smartphones to access a variety of videos also created by Dunphy. Dunphy will give an artist talk at 11 a.m. Feb. 6 with reception following at noon.

“My background is in video art and performance, and as a video person, you are bound by a lot of mechanism,” Dunphy said. “My revelation was that I could have a video show using the available technology, which would mean I wouldn’t need cords, projectors, screens or audio plug-ins.

“A video show could exist on a smartphone, and I thought that would be a really beautiful thing.”

Dunphy chose to use cross-stitches because of her interest in traditional women’s labor such as quilting or sewing. She was primarily inspired by schoolgirl samplers, or embroideries made by young women during the 18th and 19th centuries often used to memorize the alphabet, poems or Bible verses.

The cross-stitches were painstakingly sewn by hand, and some took as many as 100 hours of work. If a single stitch was off, then the QR codes wouldn’t scan, forcing Dunphy to retrace her steps until she found the problem.

“The hardest part was coming to the end and wondering if it was going to scan or not,” she said. “It happened to me once, but happily I only needed to pull out one or two spots.”

The videos themselves revolve around the idea of play, featuring scenes ranging from Mennonites swimming along the New Jersey shore to sorority functions. This is a common theme of Dunphy’s work, which often consists of interactive environments such as swings or seesaws.

Dunphy holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in contemporary arts from the San Francisco Art Institute and formerly taught in the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art. She has had work featured in Southern Living, Athens Magazine, Craft, the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Elle Décor, Interior Design, Vogue Living and two design books.

“Sampler” is on display for free through Feb. 28.

For more information visit http://ung.edu/art-galleries/index.php or email gallery@ung.edu.


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