A piece entitled “The Collective” on display at a Sunnyfield showing in 2017. The piece features representations of Beatrix Potter and Virginia Woolf, among others.
FROM THE ARCHIVES:
Back in June 2017 a version of this article about needlepoint artist, Jill A. Vendituoli, appeared in The Waterboro Reporter.
Needlepoint artist, Jill A. Vendituoli, lives and works at Sunnyfield, a 230-year-old Maine farmhouse nestled into a bucolic rural landscape down a country lane close to the New Hampshire border. In the studio, the bright colors and fascinating textures of her stitches glow against the old, wide, pine panels of the gallery walls. Vendituoli created the space for needlework design in 2009 and now holds open gallery events when she feels she has produced a coherent collection of new work. “I have a show when it feels right,” Vendituoli said at a Friday evening open house. A small crowd of guests filled the rooms as they mingled and admired pieces representing two years of dedicated, creative work.
Vendituoli’s designs express a contemporary point of view using the age-old art of needlepoint tapestry. From a long lineage of medieval tapestries, embroidered clothing, and needlepoint pillows, today’s contemporary designs present abstract shapes, collages, mixed media, and three-dimensional pieces. There is nothing ancient or stuffy about the art Vendituoli creates. Quite the opposite, her pieces are modern, vibrant, and exciting representations and abstractions–emotion and imagination rendered in a tactile, textile-based medium.
While Vendituoli creates all her own designs now, when she first started out she used basic kits. “It was like painting by numbers,” she laughed. Later she took a number of studio art classes which she said helped her to look at the craft differently, to really understand how the elements all work together. She works on her pieces-in-progress for six to eight hours a day. A single piece of art can take weeks to finish depending on the intricacy of the design.
The pieces on display ranged from animals like cats and fish to starry-night nebula lampshades created with needlepoint fabric placed around antique pesticide bottles found in the barn. A triptych of pieces speaks of the artist’s vision of where she came from, where she is today, and her sense of being part a collective of women bound together in creative work. The last piece in the trilogy, “The Collective,” shows a sea of faceless women representing women in the arts. “I put my favorite people in it,” Vendituoli explained, pointing out Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, and Beatrix Potter.
Guests at the Friday evening event said they were impressed with the art on display. Sara Nelson of Gorham traveled to the Sunnyfield Studio for the Ladies’ Night opening with Jill’s sister, Jane Farr. “Jane connected us through Facebook,” Nelson said. “I admired her through social media. The dimension that she uses. The additional detail. It transforms how you see the piece.”
Jill’s work has been licensed through the Art Needlepoint Company which will offer her designs for others to stitch. She has also taught at the prestigious Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, the premier museum of American decorative arts. “It has the largest collection of decorative arts in the U.S,” she said. “I’ll be teaching an existing design and one I’ve created just for that class.”