Visit to “Alpenglow” Embroidery in New York

Several years ago the traditional Vietnamese artisans’ group La Than Imperial Embroidery recreated my photograph “Alpenglow on Hurricane Ridge” in thread. See the sidebar link on this site for background on the project.

Last April my wife Karen and I had a chance to see the piece for the first time in person during a visit to New York. I was overwhelmed by the detail and refinement that I had not been able to fully appreciate in the photos they had sent during the year-long making of the embroidery.

This detail of the seven foot wide piece is NOT my original photograph. This is the embroidery. Every minute feature of the flowers, grass, and background trees is created with thread. One of the revelations was 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 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.