Embroidery and needlework by Michigan artists is now on display in the guest gallery of the Grosse Pointe Artists Association gallery space at  The War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Embroidery and needlework by Michigan artists is now on display in the guest gallery of the Grosse Pointe Artists Association gallery space at The War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

Multiple threads run through art exhibitions at War Memorial

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 21, 2023

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Not all artists create using canvases or clay — some of them make their masterpieces with a needle and thread.

That’s certainly the case with a needlepoint and embroidery exhibition on display through July 19 in the guest wing of the Grosse Pointe Artists Association’s gallery space at The War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms. Sponsored by the Knotted Needle, of Grosse Pointe Woods, the exhibition features roughly two-dozen works by needle artists from metro Detroit and Canada. It was organized by the National Academy of Needlearts, Monguagon Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America and Magnificent Obsession Chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild.

“It’s a wonderful show,” Grosse Pointe Artists Association President Karen Pope said. “It’s exquisite.”

Dawn Donnelly, of Macomb Township, registrar for the National Academy of Needlearts, has several works in the show and was also one of the show’s organizers.

“The nice thing about it is, it kind of ties in with the exhibit (the Grosse Pointe Artists Association) already had over there (called) ‘Follow the Thread,’” Donnelly said.

“Follow the Thread” is in the main gallery through July 21. While the embroidery and needlework exhibition “was more literal” with regard to the concept of following the thread, Pope said the GPAA’s exhibition was more of a metaphorical interpretation.

“It can mean through a conversation, in your life, in an experience,” Pope said of “Follow the Thread,” which was juried by radio host Ann Delisi and features 60 works by 51 different artists in a variety of media.

The needlework exhibition will feature two free lectures: “What Inspires Us” at 6:30 p.m. June 22 by Donnelly, and “Sunflowers in the Needlearts” by Gail Sirna at 2 p.m. July 8.

There are a number of misconceptions needlework artists are trying to counter.

“I think they don’t think of it as an art form,” Donnelly said. “Some of these pieces are phenomenal.”

She said these works involve a tremendous amount of time and effort, as well as creativity.

“They’re very decorative and intricate,” Donnelly said.

She said many artists have incorporated other materials in their pieces besides fabric elements. Donnelly, for example, has used handmade paper and metal in some of her works.

“They tell stories of their own,” Pope said of the needle artists.

The only artist from the Grosse Pointes who’s featured is Rebecca Booth, of Grosse Pointe Shores, who has three works in the show. Besides being a talented needle artist, she’s also the owner of the Knotted Needle.

Attendees of the needlepoint and embroidery show will find ballots they can use to vote for their favorite piece. They’ll also find information about the presenting needle arts organizations.

Donnelly said they want to get more young people interested in the needle arts.

“It’s a great way to relax,” Donnelly said, adding that there’s tremendous camaraderie among her fellow needleworkers. “I meet with two groups once a month and we enjoy our time together.”

For a generation accustomed to the immediacy of the internet age, needlework forces people to slow down and focus on a tactile task that doesn’t involve batteries or Wi-Fi.

The GPAA’s guest gallery is open to groups interested in presenting an exhibition. Pope said the next available slot for the gallery is Nov. 16 through early January. She said organizations that would like to use the space should contact the GPAA as soon as possible.

Both GPAA galleries are open whenever The War Memorial is open. At a minimum, Pope said that means visitors can drop in between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

The War Memorial is located at 32 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Farms. For more information about either of the exhibitions or to inquire about use of the guest gallery, visit grossepointeartcenter.org or call (313) 881-3454.