American fiber artist Sarah K. Benning is a self-taught embroidery expert. Though trained as a fine artist, she strayed from the studio art path and happened upon embroidery “almost by accident,” she admits. Initially a hobby, she turned the craft into a career, and is now known for her playful portrayals of potted plants.
Benning’s work features a diverse and delightful array of flora, from trendy succulents and cacti to more traditional ferns and flowers. Her sources of inspiration are equally eclectic, as she cites “interior design trends, a love for Midcentury design, antique textiles, and her own potted plant collection” as her muses. Benning combines these interests and influences to create embroidered works of art that showcase her undeniable studio skills.
With vivid, tonal colors, stylized designs, and bold lines, her leafy series is evidently inspired by illustration and highly evocative of a painting. “Each piece begins as a drawing before being meticulously hand-stitched,” she explains on her website. “In this way, the thread become more like ink or paint than traditional embroidery, which accentuates the bold shapes, patterns, and color in the compositions.” Benning foregoes the light and delicate style typically associated with embroidery and opts instead for a Matisse-meets-Morris aesthetic.
All images via Sarah K. Benning.