Monday, March 30, 2009


Conversations with friends and acquaintances informed the creation of my embroideries, providing a context and some balance so that not all anecdotes were mine or from a female perspective.

I began a more formal collaboration with a female friend my age, also living in Brooklyn at the time, in winter 2007-2008. We got together for tea and brainstorming meetings, enlisting a male friend as a "moderator," and male point of view.

Many of my journal entries in the winter of 2007-2008 developed from these group sessions. Here are some of the embroideries and journal entries inspired by our conversations.

above left: Physically and Emotionally Photoshopped. 2008. Embroidery on fabric. 5.5" X 9". For sale through Shop Art Gallery. Contact Muriel Guepin,,

Above right is the journal entry leading to the finished piece.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Were I So Besotted, installation view

This is an installation shot of some of the pages in Were I So Besotted. Details on individual pages to come in subsequent posts.

When the Shoe Doesn't Fit

I've tried on and run in many pairs of sneakers, just as I've tried out many men. I am not sure in which area I have done more research.

"When the Shoe Doesn't Fit," finished piece at right, says:
"My slow accumulation of boyfriends, like pairs of running sneakers. Some hurt and were hardly worn. I hoped some would mold, magically, to my feet. Others, I ran in blissfully. I held on as long as they held up. Now, after years of waiting for the other shoe to drop, I know to try on many pairs until I find one I won't want to take off. I know when to say no, even if it hurts. And I am learning how to slow down."

As for learning to slow down, I am picking up speed and mileage.

The drawings at left, my study for the finished piece at right, are from an
embroidery class I taught at Etsy Labs in Brooklyn last spring. After my students practiced French knots (see right-hand image), which require small, tight movements, there were sighs of frustration. To loosen up, I had my students do a continuous line drawing of one of my sneakers. This exercise is like a game where you continue drawing and do not pick up your pen until I say stop. I participated, too, and later went home and added more sneakers.

To sign up for an embroidery class:
Etsy at 3rd Ward in Bushwick, Brooklyn:
see Extraordinary Embroidery.
Next one is Saturday, April 11, 12noon-3pm.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


There is an inherent contradiction/conflict in my decision to create Were I So Besotted, both the embroidered pieces and this blog. I have always been a private person, and have always kept journals. My journals were never shared, except for the one I kept when I traveled with my best friend from high school when we were in our early-twenties. (She found it amusing that I re-read and edited my own entries.)

I never imagined a culture where people would essentially broadcast their own journals, their most intimate thoughts and experiences, via the world wide web. From YouTube to internet dating web sites to Facebook to every imaginable kind of blog, we now have access to the thoughts and motivations of millions of
strangers. Who reads these blogs and makes posts to these sites? Probably everyone we know. How does this phenomenon influence our social interactions when we meet people face to face rather than via an on-line vehicle? How do we transition from an on-line interaction to a face-to-face meeting?

All of these questions compelled me to begin and to continue crafting the embroidered version of Were I So Besotted. Internet dating in particular was the crucible of my conflicted feelings. Were I So Besotted became a safe haven in which to vent and process many of my frustrations and uncomfortable experiences in both on-line and face-to-face interactions.

I first began internet dating in 2003. I was terrified and horrified by the thought of posting a profile and photo. Initially, I filled out an on-line questionnaire without including a photo, and very tentatively responded to emails. After some time, I began posting photos, and subsequently became more critical of how I looked in them and what I was projecting. Eventually, my photos became artier, funnier, a little hipper an
d edgier. I took on the persona of the particular site I used. In short, I assimilated within this on-line community.

Ultimately, I never completely shed my fears of self-exposure and vulnerability. Tried as I might to portray myself in a way that would produce the best matches, I still got many emails from men I considered inappropriate (20+years older than me; living more than 15 miles away from New York City; incapable of crafting a coherent sentence). I felt obligated to use this method to meet men, yet resented my lack of sense of control over the outcome.

The majority of my dates were disappointing. Some gave me material for nights out with friends who found me funny and wacky. Others were simply awkward in a banal, almost scripted way. Of course, some dates were wonderfully fun, yet the loving, communicative, more long-term relationship I hoped for never materialized.

Were I So Besotted contains hope amidst the disappointment. I began to believe that I could craft my own man through embroidery, even if I couldn't find him on-line. (I do really believed that if I think carefully about the type of relationship I want to find, it will eventual
ly materialize. And, no I don't literally think I can stitch a boyfriend who will then appear in my daily life.)

The Men Who Want to Meet Me is a portrait of fictional boyfriends. The left-most man's t-shirt reads, "I will get you. I will totally get you. And if I don't, I will ask questions until I do, or you seem bored."

I don't expect anyone to "get" me without some effort from both of us. I do think we all want to find someone who gets us. And I fear that internet dating sites create the promise and illusion that an instant connection with someone, who like, really gets us, awaits.

Top left: "The Men Who Want to Meet Me." Embroidery on fabric. 2008.
Below left: preliminary drawing from my journal, done in February 2008.


At left: I Don't Miss My Ex-boyfriend, But I Do Miss Greenpoint.

The piece reads:
"I don't miss my ex-boyfriend,
but I do miss Greenpoint -
Early morning walks around
the ballfield, and the smell
of fresh bread wafting
from the bakery nearby."

This piece is for sale at Shop Art Gallery, 51 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY.
Contact Muriel Guepin, for inquiries.

For a couple of years in my mid-twenties, I dated a man who lived in Greenpoint. I am a morning person. He was not. While he slept in on weekends, I wandered around Greenpoint, becoming friendly with the workers at the local bakery and fruit stand. One of my favorite rituals was buying rye bread from the factory across the street, which scented the entire neighborhood, and opened its doors early in the morning on weekends to sell even a single loaf to a passerby.

It was a relief recently to realize that my grief over the end of that relationship has evaporated. What I miss and have nostalgia for is Greenpoint.

Below: original journal entry informing this piece
(see 2/20/08 blog entry, too).

I'm Telling You -- finished piece

Image at right, developed in October 2008, is preliminary journal entry for "I'm Telling You." (See 10/12/08 blog entry.)
Final image below of
"I'm Telling You," was finished November 2008.

It is now being sold through Shop Art Gallery, 51 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY:
Contact Muriel Guepin -

Were I So Besotted - embroidered "blog"

In February 2007, I began recording and illustrating episodes from dates with men I met through the internet, through friends, and at parties and art openings. At first, I imagined making a graphic novel with a stylized, hyperbolic version of myself. Eventually, after drawing and writing in a journal, I began to embroider 5" wide by 8.5" high "pages." Each page included illustrations and/or text on fabric. The illustrations were derived from photos of me, or were fictionalized representations of men I encountered.

Now, two years later, I have compiled around two dozen pages in this piece, "Were I So Besotted." Each page contains a discrete anecdote, episode, or theme, and can be viewed on its own. However, I think of the pages as a collective portrait of a period in my life, and my engagement in the contemporary, media-driven method of searching for and finding a mate. Furthermore, I consider the pages to be an embroidered blog--they are intimate and even disarming the way blog posts can be; they are inspired by internet-fueled behavior and socializing; and they grew out of my own process of keeping a journal/diary where I record "private" thoughts through drawings and text.

Here, finally, are some of the pages in "Were I So Besotted" in the context of an actual blog. Additional images from Were I So Besotted can be viewed at:
You can see more of my artwork on Esty:

Image at top left: "Play." Embroidery and colored pencil on fabric. 8.5" high X 5" wide. August 2007.