“Alpenglow” in Thread


In a revival of an historic Vietnamese craft tradition, an artisans’ project called La Than Imperial Embroidery has rendered one of my photographs, Alpenglow on Hurricane Ridge, in silk thread.

The piece is 7 feet wide, took six needle workers over a year to execute, and utilizes hundreds of distinct thread dyes.

This detail of the huge piece is NOT my original photograph. This is the embroidery. Every minute feature of the flowers, grass, and background trees is created with thread.

Embroidery Detail

One of the remarkable features is that the surface has relief. In many places, the needleworkers used five or six layers of thread to capture the complex color and texture of the twilight scene.

The La Than organizers, Jennifer Ha Than and Lawrence Gooberman, would like to place the work in an appropriate museum or corporate collection. Wherever it finds a home, I think it should be displayed with interpretive material on the embroidery tradition in Vietnam, how it was lost during thirty years of successive wars, and how Jennifer who came to the United States among the Boat People in the 70’s returned home to find the scattered artisans who still knew the technique and reorganized them to pursue this project.

The Alpenglow embroidery was featured at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design as part of a two day La Than Demonstration. Embroidery pieces based on works by two other photographers, Frans Lanting and Christopher Burkett, were also part of the event.

Museum of Arts and Design
photo: David Heald

MAD’s new building is strikingly juxtaposed to older architecture on Manhattan’s Columbus Circle.