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Western senior creates embroidered art

Camille Crocetti stands next to one of her pieces, "High St." at her show opening on Thursday, May 7. // Photo by Kesia Lee
Twelve 20-by-20-inch canvases of embroidered thread filled the B Gallery at Western. The pieces had been carefully placed on the white walls, each under a beam of light to show the multiple dimensional look of the abstract architecture stitched. Ten of the canvases were white, filled with a small space of silky white embroidered architecture to imitate photographs taken by senior Camille Crocetti, a fine arts student. She turned photographs of buildings into small embroidered squares filled with angular shapes to resemble them. Some of the architecture depicted in her pieces are from streets in Bellingham, such as High Street and Lincoln Street.


Crocetti, the artist of the threaded work titled “As we write, so we build,” spent five months working on her project to demonstrate the idea of home. “Going into my senior year of college, I’ve been thinking about what is home to me. You’re at this weird point where your childhood home isn’t really your home anymore,” Crocetti said. “But then up here it feels so temporary because I’m only in Bellingham for four years of college.” Building an art project to demonstrate the relationship between the distance from home and the emotional ties that remain was a goal of Crocetti, who is an out-of-state student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she said. “I like this idea of playing with ideas of what home can be,” said senior Quinton Maldonado, a fine arts major that helped Crocetti greatly with her project. The topic of home is often explored in an over-sentimental way, Maldonado said. Crocetti slows it down, taking a much more “nuanced, complicated and subtle” approach in her exploration of home, which makes it exciting, he said. It’s minimalist, yet emotional and passionate, Maldonado said. The viewer looks at Crocetti’s work and leaves part of themself behind in her architecture, whether emotionally or spiritually, her mother Dawn Crocetti said. Crocetti’s work shows embroidered images of her home in Albuquerque as well as images of her temporary home in Bellingham. “These are depictions of places that held emotional abundance, but are now seen as remnants of once sacred places,” she wrote in her artist statement that was displayed in the gallery. Her work was displayed at a show in the B gallery the week of Monday, May 4, in her first solo art show. It will be displayed again at the BFA Graduates Exhibition in the Western Gallery Monday, May 25, through Monday, June 15. “She’s very dedicated to her work, but also everything she does is well laid out and planned,” Maldonado said. “While some other people in the major are very spontaneous, she’s very deliberate.” Crocetti describes herself as creative but organized. When she has an idea, she plans it out. “Artists have this preconceived notion about them that they’re going to be really disorganized and not have everything together and just be the creative mind, but not the organized mind,” she said. She believes she balances both. “I am very much a leader in a lot of ways. With our Bachelor of Fine Arts group, I led a lot of projects,” she said. “I like to plan things out and that’s how I think better,” she said.


Crocetti has always had an art influence from her mom, who was her art teacher in elementary school, Crocetti said. She started photography in late grade school or middle school, Dawn Crocetti said. “To see the world through her lens, it makes the viewer look at things from a different perspective.” Crocetti’s father is a doctor and her mother is an artists, so she was involved in science and art in high school, Crocetti said. She was looking at University of Washington for its biology program, and a family friend suggested she visit Western while she was in Washington. “My mom and I came up [to Western], and I thought, ‘This is so beautiful.’” When she applied at Western, she also applied for the art program and was accepted to both. Though she still has interest in science, she felt that the community at Western felt like an environment of creative people and that resonated with her. “Art pulled me in first and that’s just where my path led me,” she said. Photography is Crocetti’s artistic concentration. Her photography influenced her embroidered BFA project. All her pieces were based off photos she took. “I’m no stranger to sewing — my mom made a lot of my clothes growing up. I’ve taken a lot of fiber classes [at Western],” she said. “I had these ideas last year of wanting to incorporate my photography with embroidery.” She played around with this idea, and when it came time to her BFA project, she let it evolve into the medium that she used for her project. Crocetti used to build intricate black-widow's-nest-looking installations throughout her entire room, Dawn Crocetti said. “It was all these strings, knots and things tied together,” she said. “It reminds me somewhat of the fiber work she’s doing now because it’s all monochromatic.” Each piece in Crocetti’s BFA project took about four hours of stitching patterns in cotton fabric. She would then spend an hour stretching it so that the embroidered square would look straight. This smoothed it out and lined the corners up. As an artist, Crocetti likes to have multiple projects because she gets tired of continuously working on the same project. It’s like taking a break for her. To have been working on only one project for the last five months was a test of her concentration, she said. Commissioning embroidered projects for people by request and working on personal photography projects with medium-format film and color film are some of the things she did on the side. She has already sold one of her pieces. The pieces cost $185 each. Her committee told her they were priced too low. Her main audience at Western is students, so if she were to price them higher, they wouldn’t be affordable, she said. Continuing to show her work in Bellingham, with hopes of showing in Seattle with some of her peers, is something that Crocetti wants to do after graduation.


“I can’t speak highly enough about [Crocetti]. She’s just phenomenal,” Garth Amundson, photography and art professor said. She accelerated quickly through the program, he said. Crocetti and Maldonado curated a photography and sculpture show together earlier in the year at the Viking Union Gallery, which she felt was successful. She wants to continue to submit that show to galleries in the Pacific Northwest area. She hopes that through professor’s connections and the documentation of the installation of their work will be helpful. “[My friends and I] have been brainstorming ways to keep the artist community alive after we graduate and keep up with each other's work and keep putting together shows,” Crocetti said. Amundson has discussed graduate school with Crocetti because he thinks she would be a great teacher. She could “easily” use her skills to work in a gallery or run her own gallery. BFA students learn how to do that work in their time at Western. Crocetti currently curates shows at Western and hopes to continue her work in galleries. She hopes to stay in the Seattle or Portland area, depending on where she can find a job. A possible job could be curating shows or directing them while continuing to work on her art. “She could do anything she wanted in the art world at this moment because she has a really unique voice, but, at the same time, it’s very passionate,” Maldonado said. Though she wants to take a break and work after graduation, whether it’s making art or working in a gallery, she dreams of going to New York, possibly to attend graduate school. She doesn’t have a specific school or program in mind. Crocetti is interested in a lot of different things, so she isn’t sure, yet, what she would attend graduate school for. This spring, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and minors in sociology and art history, she said. “Whatever she does, whatever she puts her mind to, she’ll be a success. I have a lot of confidence in her skills, ability and future,” Amundson said.

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