Pin Artists

I can't believe this has been sitting in my draft folder since MAY! It took an age to research, mostly because Americans will insist on using the word 'pins' to mean badges and brooches, which made googling for other artists who use dressmaking pins rather tedious and time-consuming. In this post I've concentrated on art where the pins are the main focus, rather than a way of anchoring or enhancing other things; I may do a post on pins as a secondary medium at some later date.

I've written about Tara Donovan before - I admire her work immensely and although our work is quite different in scale, there are obvious connections with my own art. I am completely in awe of her huge block of pins. This isn't held together by anything other than the pins natural inclination to wedge themselves together - incredible!


Tara Donovan: Untitled, 2001

Mona Hatoum, another well-known artist, has made several works involving pins, including this sinister looking rug.


Mona Hatoum: Doormat II

American artist, Katie Lewis makes stunning wall pieces using pins, drawing and thread that focus on repetition and counting. I think these are fabulous and I wish I knew a bit more about this artist: I hope she puts a website or a blog up soon.


Katie Lewis: Accumulated Numbness (12 months and counting)


Katie Lewis: Process of Accumulation


Katie Lewis: Body Area x Time

Lisa Kellner uses quilting pins in some of her work. This piece, Oil Spill, uses 60,000 bright yellow pins in a highly patterned work that has echoes of quiltmaking. I'm not entirely sure about the use of yellow in this work but I love the way the heads of the pins nestle against each other.


Lisa Kellner: Oil Spill


Lisa Kellner: Oil Spill

Margaret Diamond makes kinetic works. In her piece, Quietly Suffering, she has pushed pins through canvas and then wired them up to a motor so they move.


Margaret Diamond: Quietly Suffering


Margaret Diamond: Quietly Suffering (close up)

Fortunately there's a short video, so we can see the piece in action. Pins are just amazing when they move, they catch the light in such compelling ways - one of my favourite things about my own piece, Quiver, was the way it gently shimmered as it moved in even the slightest breeze.

Hmm, I notice that all these artists are women, if anyone knows of any male artists working with pins, I'd love to hear about them.

A few other pins links:

This site about the history of lacemaking has some beautiful images of prickings (the pin-pricked paper patterns used for making lace) and a delightful cluster of pins in use during lacemaking.

Unsurprisingly, I love this sort of obsessive stuff - A. Schiller, a convicted forger imprisoned in Sing Sing in the 19th Century spent 25 years carving the Lord's Prayer on 7 pins.

A fun little page about the history of small items like pins, zippers, needles and buttons. Lots of lovely pictures.

10 thoughts on “Pin Artists

  1. so glad this post made it out of your drafts and onto the page, of course I love the yellow pins, and the pattern too... as always this is an interesting and informative post... haven't used pins myself in a while, got tired of holes in my fingers, but there are some in my new work, although I think they are only temporary??

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  2. so glad this post made it out of your drafts and onto the page, of course I love the yellow pins, and the pattern too... as always this is an interesting and informative post... haven't used pins myself in a while, got tired of holes in my fingers, but there are some in my new work, although I think they are only temporary??

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  3. Laura <3

    your blog has been so helpful in helping me research. Im currently using pins as the media in my work but needed a little inspiration. thank you x

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