Inside the Studio

Visit with Erin Zhao

Reflecting on the tradition of embroidery passed down from her grandmother, a Bouyi ethnic minority from China, Erin Zhao gives us a closer look at her Poem series. Incorporating embroidery and colored vinyl film on top of rainbow-roll monotype relief prints, she creates prismatic meditations on light, color, and the intangible qualities of perception.

E85ffc91 4ee0 4e8e aa17 7f8918d5abee
B195b01d 333e 4677 9102 2a7d1525798b
861c1242 dcd9 4633 b46a 16ccc0afb9e0

“Similar to how I mix and layer translucent oil-based ink to create monotype relief prints, I cut and compose translucent vinyl films with the monotypes to create additional depth and interest. I then sew them together using needle and embroidery floss.”

— Erin Zhao

D3a6971a eeaa 4567 8daa 7e09aa8cc46d
B539a0cc 13b3 4b2e 808d 8bec5caf657c
86418595 4c80 408f a97e 05478d132f28
316faf5e abbc 433c a0f5 9350105b78bb

“There’s something so magical about the stitching process that feels healing to me: the meditative motion of hand repetition, the delicacy yet the resilience of the materials. Embroidery reminds me of my late great-grandmother, grandmother, and my Bouyei ethnicity. My great-grandmother and grandmother were both Bouyei ethnic minorities from Guizhou, China. Embroidery is one of many practices that all Bouyei women learn and master. Incorporating embroidery into my work knowing this special connection made me feel nostalgic.”

— Erin Zhao

B7c7ad62 660e 4eba a446 40a22141a634
2ef1ecb2 bfb7 49f2 b82c b12c41c226a1
Ca860831 bb52 4b81 8624 f746b3169559
9f67ce01 e760 424d 8477 23fa03112d5d

“I often incorporate modern technologies with traditional techniques to create images, objects, or hybrid installations. While I’m embracing the efficiency and innovation of modern technologies, I also deeply appreciate the process of traditional techniques like printmaking and hand-embroidery.”

— Erin Zhao

7dff3eaa fb89 4203 bb8d 114267385ba8
D8368020 6bfe 4ad2 9ea5 fb1e93996162
90c4458a 6c95 4e68 a27b d9d87b3270fd
E2bd5a59 0ac8 41f6 a9eb 94d8a09f49ac

“Poet Billy Collins mentioned that he had once heard someone say that poets are people who can’t say one thing at a time. I think this is also true for many visual artists. For me, the process of creating visual art enables me to say more than one thing at a time and opens up broader conversations.”

— Erin Zhao

More From Erin Zhao

More from Inside the Studio

Tour Artist Studios
86ec1dc6 6113 48f5 aa11 66ced1e32c1c
Inside the Studio Visit with Karina Bania

Follow us inside the studio of Karina Bania where she crafts large scale abstract paintings that incorporate elements of still life to evoke a snapshot of a moment in time.

More from the Journal

Browse Posts
2c799f93 021a 4665 9f9c 626519e5d5d0
Meet Sarah Ingraham

Sarah Ingraham looks to ceramics and textiles from all over the world as inspiration in her work, which combines ancient motifs with a fresh palette.