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‘Stitching Vincent’ — a local take on Van Gogh’s legacy

Cypresses (after Van Gogh), embroidery on linen, by Hope Werness.
Cypresses (after Van Gogh), embroidery on linen, by Hope Werness.

“Stitching Vincent” at the Carnegie Arts Center is an installation of handmade works by Turlock artist and Stan State professor Hope Werness. Her art is inspired by the paintings of Vincent van Gogh.

The pop-up style show opens Jan. 10 and runs through Feb. 4, at the gallery located at 250 N. Broadway in downtown Turlock. A reception and conversation with the artist will be held on Friday, Jan. 13, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Werness has re-worked details of Van Gogh compositions using embroidery on fabric. A small selection of works is presented in an intimate and experimental format, developed in collaboration with CAC Director and Curator Lisa McDermott.

This concept presents the viewer with a surprisingly different way of engaging with this artist who seems so familiar.

“With the amazing popularity of Van Gogh ‘experiences’ these days, Hope is presenting us with a whole new perspective on this iconic artist,” McDermott says.

Using materials and techniques that are traditionally relegated to craft or “women’s work,” Werness reinterprets intimate fragments of paintings that are now valued in the millions of dollars and held in the most prestigious museum collections.

The contrast between what is familiar and what is famous is made clear. The viewer is brought into Van Gogh’s world on the smallest scale through the work of another artist who has made close study of his life, travels, subjects, and methods. Through careful selection and reimagining of famous images, she emphasizes the essentially personal and intimate nature of creativity.

The presentation of these delicate works was a collaboration between artist and curator.

“It was important to have a small, intimate space to view this material,” McDermott explains, “but our gallery does not have a space that readily provides that kind of atmosphere.”

The Arts Center’s Gallery Committee was open to the idea of a pop-up show, using only a small area within the larger gallery to try this out.

With this show, the CAC is shifting the usual exhibition schedule to create a short time slot in the winter to explore experimental ideas and unique concepts with small-scale, temporary exhibitions. McDermott is excited about the opportunity for exploring fresh ideas.

“We’ve set aside the month of January now as our Project Space, and we are excited to debut the first of these experimental shows with Hope’s installation.”


About the Artist

Both a respected scholar and an award-winning visual artist, Hope Werness earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art/Art History at UC Santa Barbara in 1965, and her Master of Arts in Art History at Tulane University in 1968. She went on to receive her PhD in Art History at UC Santa Barbara in 1972. Prior to her arrival at CSU Stanislaus in 1976 she taught at Santa Barbara City College and San Jose State. Over the course of her long tenure at Stan State, she at times served as Department Chair and as Gallery Director, and was named Outstanding CSU Stanislaus Research, Creativity and Scholarship Professor.

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