Recently, VAM member Lise Winne talked to Debra-Ann Salat, another member who is an embroiderer. Here is part of their conversation about Deb’s work:
Lise: Looking at your work, there is a theme with hands. What do hands represent to you?
Deb: Hands represent life. They are at the center of every interaction, every connection. We use them to comfort, nurture, nourish, create, and we also use them in love, even in anger. I use them because they are simple but all life comes from them.
Lise: Your pieces have a message of healing and hope, especially because of your use of hearts sewn. What is the message?
Deb: I learned how to embroider during a very traumatic time period of my childhood. I have always used the needle arts as a soothing presence, as a meditation to bring peace and tranquility to my life. I like to translate that peace into my work. Like most artists I use my art to express my emotions, be they peaceful or chaotic. I almost always end up in peace if I let myself go there. I would love a more compassionate world and think it would be if more people picked up an embroidery needle or a paintbrush.
Lise: Why did you choose embroidery as your medium?
Deb: I have been embroidering since I was a 6-year-old. Becoming an artist came much later in life. I can do more with an embroidery needle than I ever could with a paint brush; it’s something I’ve been in love with since childhood. My embroidery is very organic, it starts out with a simple design that I hand draw but all the details come from a needle. It is why if you pick up two of my heart ornaments they may have the same subject but they are never identical.
Lise: How does embroidery make you the person that you are?
Deb: It keeps me peaceful and even keeled. If I am embroidering all is right with the world. When I’m not embroidering I am an anxious kind of person and quite talkative; when I am embroidering I am at peace, quiet, contemplative. I process my feelings and create peace within myself. I have always been embroidering something but it has taken on more importance since I have begun to self express this way.
Lise: How do you want your images to effect others?
Deb: I would like them to feel peace and see the chaos of every moment. We live in a tangled twisty time period filled with emotions of all sorts. I’d like them to see the twisty turns of chaos come together to find peace. The hearts mean a lot to me because I tend to do them when I need them. If I need a little joy I embroider a little joy. If I need peace I embroider a little peace. They relate to people that way too. A customer said she loved my work and had given one of my joy hearts to her sister who was quite ill so she could bring a little joy into her life. It was a huge lightbulb moment that what I was hoping to accomplish. It’s one of the nicest compliments I have ever received.
Lise: Are there any other things you would like to say about your work?
Deb: I am so thankful to my grandmother who taught me to embroider as a child. I make custom pieces and create bereavement work where I will finish an unfinished piece of hand embroidery or teach someone how to finish it themselves.
To see her full profile: http://www.valleyartisansmarket.com/debra-ann-nielsen-salat/