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“Muses” by Elsa Hansen Oldham

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Louisville native Elsa Hansen Oldham works in fiber, imbuing the traditional decorative art of embroidery with a personalized form of social critique. Her embroidered illustrations touch on topics of celebrity identity and pop culture, and she often stages her subjects in juxtapositions that are artfully comical and mischievous. Drawing on the designs of traditional embroidery sampler patterns, the work incorporates a wide array of influences that include the illustrations of Craig Robinson and the subversive craft of Tracy Emin, as well as the work of Swedish Sámi textile artist Britta Marakatt-Labba.

Hansen Oldham initially took up cross-stitching to pass the time but it quickly became an entry point into the world of contemporary art. The Muses exhibition features some of her most iconic embroideries, alongside new, rarely seen work. Aligned with KMAC’s approach to examining the spaces between traditional media and contemporary artistic production, Oldham’s work deftly collapses the boundaries between art, craft, folk art, and decoration, informing a broader conversation about material culture and storytelling.