San Francisco-based artist Steve MacDonald creates embroidered paintings on gilded canvases. His work draws inspiration from an eclectic array of sources including Japanese nature scenes, folk art, fantasy, mythology and elements from the urban experience. Taken together, his compositions provoke a variety of spontaneous references through the depiction of fantastical landscapes. A variety of imagery act out fantastical narratives, where tigers, rainbows, cityscapes, skulls and shipping containers are juxtaposed against the backdrop of a traditional Japanese print form.
This merging of futuristic subject matter and historical setting underlines the mythical nature of MacDonald’s creative method, preventing the viewer from getting too comfortable in one context or another and, rather, encouraging a more associative approach to understanding the work. The mood and pace of the stitching varies considerably from one painting to the next, often within a single work, using a different material language to describe the texture and lines of any given element, whether it be foliage, water, the peaks of a mountain range or the facade of a building.
There is something unpredictable, nearly magical, about there work, as if they would change form and character even between views. It is this fundamental spontaneity that makes MacDonald’s work so engaging, drawing the viewer ever closer to the fantasy world of the canvas.
- Nadine Monem, Contemporary Textiles: The Fabric of Fine Art, Black Dog Publishing; Ill edition (June 2008)