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Meet fibrrous

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Banks.

Amanda, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I really got into hand embroidery while living on a permaculture farm in Washington. Not much to do when it’s raining every day after 11:30 am and all the chores are done… so I started stabbing fabric!

That was about two years ago, and now, I’m all in. It’s a daily practice. I used YouTube, blogs, and library books to learn different stitches. With some inspiration from other hand embroidery artists on Instagram, I created a separate account for fibrous and here we are!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Wow, definitely not smooth, and I’m not sure where on the road I’m at, but I’m on the road.

The biggest thing is to just keep practicing, keep going, keep a notebook handy to write down your ideas or goals so you have them in a tangible form.

The first workshop I tried to organize had ZERO attendees… so I hung out in the space and worked on my other shit, drank a coffee, and planned how to do it better next time. My second workshop? Sold out. Third workshop? Just a few people. I tried out an art market and barely made back my application fee… but it was important to be out there. I’ll be at another one next month with one fail and tons of ideas about how to do it better.

But you know, the only way to get better and get out there is to keep going. I’ve got two workshops lined up in June and am planning more throughout the summer! I’m not at the place I want to be yet, but I’m working on it.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am, foremost, a hand embroidery artist and dabble in making jewelry. My work tends to be colorful. Vibrant. It’s an expression of my thoughts on the fabric. I began making lots of hands stitched patches (still do, just not at the same volume), but lately, I’ve been moving toward work in the hoop/unframed wall hangings/working on garments.

Everything I create is a one-off… I’m not a huge fan of repetition. I want everything to be itself, to be one-of-a-kind. Especially if its a commissioned piece! Creating art for other people to hold, carry, hang, or wear is so incredible to me and a big source of inspiration.

So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
Ok, so this one is really important.

The work I do is something that has been considered “women’s work” for a looooong time, and as such has been denied access to the world of and platform/exposure “fine art” receives. Whenever I begin a conversion with someone about hand embroidery, one of their first thoughts is about a grandma or aunt or some other older woman they knew who embroidered. That’s great! But did you ever talk to her about it? Did you ever sit down and view her work? Did you ever think she should be moved from the “craft” category to “artist”? Why/Why not?

My own grandmother was an artist. She made these huge, hand cut/hand sewn quilts for every person in the family. They took months of work and years of practice leading up to those completed quilts. Thing is, I never had her sitting in the “artist” spot in my head until I began discovering my own way through textiles. I bet your grandma was an artist too.

Women have so many beautiful thoughts and ways of seeing the world. Ways of moving through the world that cannot be replicated by anyone else. It seems like we’re living in a best of times/worst of times space… simultaneously having access to the entire world (thanks, internet), and also being faced with the option of no sex or a hanger abortion as contraception (thanks, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, etc.)

Women, especially Black women and women of color, have much more opportunity and freedom now than they did when my grandma was young… but we still have a ways to go. Art is a great way to do it. To show our communities and the world around us our unique perspectives with our own voices.

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Image Credit:
headshot by Atinuke Olukoju

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