Philadelphia-based artist Matthew Cox layers embroidery on top of medical x-rays to create these wonderfully weird pieces. The clash of two such divergent materials, cloth and plastic, already seems strange enough but add in the fact that one is quick and technical while the other is labor intensive and you have something that’s quite thought-provoking.
“For me, stitching has a nurturing aspect and acts as care giving or healing to the injured, a socially feminine sort of action, while the x-ray itself can be considered masculine and unemotional,” he states on his website. “As an artist who takes on tedious, labor-intensive projects, I am also reacting to the ever-increasing presence of photography in contemporary art – by introducing the process of labor over the quick, slickness of film.”
Update: We were able to get in touch with the artist to ask him a few questions. Read that short Q&A below.
How did the thought come about to put x-rays with embroidery?
Redefinition of materials motivated me to begin embroidering x-rays. Taking two divergent materials which each have a specific purpose and placing them together creates a new entity that hopefully upsets the viewer’s sense of reality. As for why x-rays and embroidery, I became interested in the beauty of both about the same time and it seemed an organic but odd fit.
How do you match up what you’ll embroidery with the x-rays?
Yes, the x-ray does determine what I embroider. For instance in Avatar #2, Minotaur, 2011, the stooped quality of the elderly man clearly hunched toward my idea of what Minotaur posture would be.
Where do you get your x-rays from?
Various places. They are all found x-rays in the sense that none are taken for the purpose of art. Most are given to me by an Australian friend from his family. In Australia, unlike here, the patient holds their own x-rays throughout their life so each person ends up with a stack of their own physical history.
What do most people say about your art?
Words that seem to come up repeatedly are anachronistic, labor-intensive, meticulously crafted, and creepy.