Mariska Karasz's Adventures in Stitchery

Mariska Karasz's Adventures in Stitchery

Spring by Mariska Karasz

Spring (1960) by Mariska Karasz; silk & wool; 48 x 50" 

A green bud blossoms
April snow on horizon
Minnesota spring

Mariska Karasz introduces her book, Adventures in Stitches, with the following: “Embroidery is to sewing what poetry is to prose; the stitches can be made to sing out as words in a poem.” On this very blustery day in Minnesota, we pay homage to Karasz and her remarkable wall hangings, including the aptly titled Spring, an abstract garden of color, texture, and form. 

Karasz was born in Hungary in 1898 and immigrated to the United States at the age of 16. Early on she developed a passion for fashion design and created colorful, patterned garments largely inspired by the folk art of her native country. She eventually began teaching herself embroidery, utilizing her family, animals, and the natural world surrounding her studio in Brewster, New York, as subject matter. As her talent developed, her pieces became increasingly abstract (in following with contemporary art trends of the time) and refined. Between 1948 and 1960, she was featured in nearly 50 solo exhibitions in the United States.

Following her death in 1960 at age 62, the Museum of Contemporary Crafts held a retrospective of Karasz’s work from February 17 to March 12, 1961. This show, held concurrently with the retrospective of another talented foreign-born craftswoman, the potter Katherine Choy (who died at the tragic age of 29), was very well received. In his Craft Horizons review, critic Oppi Untract said of the Karasz pieces on display, “There is a patience in this work that devalues time in the Eastern sense, and can only be explained by love. This love communicates and is not accidental.”

Throwback Thursday is a weekly series highlighting visuals from the American Craft Council Library's Digital Collections Database. Check back on Thursdays for more.