Embroidered "phrenology" heads from Extreme Embroidery show

We Make Money Not Art has a write-up of the Pricked: Extreme Embroidery show at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York -- I'm especially fond of these embroidered "Phrenology Heads" by Morwenna Catt.

One of the works that most impressed me was Morwenna Catt Phrenology Heads. Phrenology, developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall around 1800, and very popular in the 19th century, is a discipline which claims to be able to determine character, personality traits and criminality on the basis of the shape of the head (i.e., by reading "bumps" and "fissures"). Catt's soft sculptures of heads have long animal ears, Frankenstein-like stitches all over their face, one eye is shut by a patch and a needle is stuck in their head as if the work was unfinished.

The heads are embroidered with fragments of texts: the Mother one has "You will need eyes at the back of your head". The Father has "The gloom and the silence, i am terrified when i realise i am alone", etc.



  1. It’s a rabbit-human hy-brid of some grotesque sort. This is the sort of thing a disturbed personality creates. It’s breathtaking. And just in time for Easter.

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