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Handstitched Animal Sculptures Address Real World Concerns

Artist Anne Lemanski makes creatures – small and large – all by hand. She stitches together their “skin” using a wide variety of materials – a shiny rat out of mirror sheeting, a beautiful red and white bird by pages of a vintage book, and a massive gorilla head out of paper and black leather. It's interesting to note that many of her ideas are derived from the news and all address a real-world concern. For example, the gorilla is Senkwekwe, one of seven primates killed in the Congo in 2007 during the charcoal wars. The colorful coyote, meanwhile, is a life-size sculpture made of Mexican serapes (the blanket-like shawl) and refers to professionals who smuggle illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, those informally known as “coyotes.”

“My work is my way of speaking about what's happening now,” she says.

Each of her sculptures requires a tremendous amount of patience since they're labor intensive to make – from concept to the finished piece. Using flexible copper rods and wires, she forms the animals' shape by bending and brazing those materials into a frame. She then covers the frame with her desired “skin.” The hidden metalwork combined with the outer stitching means that Lemanski must be a master at both.

“I hope people connect with the many layers that exist in the work,” she tells us, “from my political and environmental take on things, as well as the humor (sometimes dark) that is often present in a piece, to the techniques used to build each sculpture. Craftsmanship is very important to me.”

Anne Lemanski's website
Photos via [American Craft Council]

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