Jen Bervin

On the more conceptual (rather than figurative) side of embroidery, my CEP tutor has just introduced me to the work of Jen Bervin.

Bervin uses needle and thread to "map"; mapping the punctuation and markings in manuscripts of Emily Dickinson's poetry in The Dickinson Fascicles, mapping the Mississippi in a scale model composed of hand-sewn silver sequins.

The Dickinson Composites, Granary Books, 2010
Unbound pages and sewn samples from the Dickinson Fascicles


The Composite Marks of Fascicles 40, 16, 38, and 34. Sewn cotton batting backed with muslin. Each quilt is 6 ft high by 8 ft wide.
The River (Mississippi Meander Belt). Hand sewn sequins on tyvek, mull, and paper. 230 curvilinear ft, 2010

Bervin seamlessly blends writing and embroidery, using embroidery to embellish and alter the poetry of John Van Dyke with "atmospheric fields of pale blue zigzag stitching to construct a poem “narrated by the air” — “so clear that one can see the breaks.”


Page detail, The Desert, Granary Books, 2008

The Desert follows in the tradition of altered books, the most famous of which is Tom Phillip's A Humument. However, unlike most altered books, where the unwanted text is simply censored or obliterated, the obscured text in The Desert can still be made out through the machine-stitched blue thread. This offers the viewer several different readings.