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A bit of an artist statement

Hand embroidery is a slow art. Embroidery offers opportunity for deliberate, careful stitch work on the one hand — and full freedom of expression on the other.

Growing up, I studied classical piano, earned a BA in music, and taught music lessons for years — but I always came back to sewing. As a girl, I learned how to cross stitch and do various crafts. I was endlessly fascinated by the detail in my grandmother’s needlepoint Christmas stockings and my mom’s crewel tree ornaments. I am merely carrying what was passed down to me, and what I hope to inspire in my own two children. It is humbling to be a part of a legacy of strong women.

The arts provide a means of attention to detail, creative expression, self-discipline, studying traditional works, and finding one’s own voice. Many artistic exercises — whether in music or visual arts — are simple enough for a child to learn, yet deeply complex when pursued with excellence. With every embroidered piece, I have the chance to strike a balance of pleasing design, precise stitch placement, and unabashed artistic voice. I aim to connect with the viewer whether the message is one of pulling heartstrings, challenging viewpoints, or laughing for a moment of levity. The world can make us weary, but the Smallwoods is a place of rest.

Tamara Harper

Tamara lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband and two children, Isaiah & Eloise. Her book, Living Restfully: A Skeptic’s Guide to Raising Children Screen-Free is available on Amazon. Watch her TEDxBirmingham talk free online.

photo by Gus Dugger