Real/Unreal: Embroidery Portraits by Cayce Zavaglia

Are these portraits simply doctored photographs? Are they impressionistic paintings? No. Artist Cayce Zavaglia creates them using a method popular with the home-crafts crowd: embroidery. Her images are arrestingly detailed, giving us a look into the shining eyes of her subjects with a touching sensitivity which is almost powerful enough to make us forget the amazing amount of skill involved in realizing them.

“I still consider myself a painter and find it difficult not to refer to these embroidered portraits as ‘paintings’. Although the medium employed is crewel embroidery wool, the technique borrows more from the worlds of drawing and painting.”

The intricate stitches she uses were developed over time out of a desire for more flexibility with the limited color palate of commercially available wool. By developing a system of sewing the threads in a sequence, she was able to give the allusion of a larger palate. In doing so she was also able to closer emulate the textures and forms of the things she was emulating – take the strikingly realistic clothing worn by each of her subjects.

If you’re in Miami December 6th-9th, you can see her work at Art|Basel Miami Beach booth A15 put on by Lyons Wier Gallery. Be sure to check out the fantastic video about her work at the bottom of this post, then head to for more.

Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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